A Long Way from St. Louie

Colleen McElroy, Author Coffee House Press $13.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-56689-059-5
McElroy is an addict, addicted to travel. In this high-spirited, fresh and beautifully written memoir, the poet (What Madness Brought Me Here) and English professor at the University of Washington describes her lifelong need for physical movement. First expressed in dancing, that need became an irrepressible appetite for seeing the world. At every chance, she has taken off for distant places, to study, to research a project or just to explore. Her adventures are special not only because of her empathy and curiosity, but also because she experienced them as a black woman in countries that traverse the spectrum of cultures and the understanding of race. Although skin color is not the primary focus of this delightful book, it is never far from her consciousness, nor from the memory of her grandmother's stories of distant places and the older woman's belief ""that there are black folks everywhere on this earth."" Among absorbing tales of people and places, she tells of studying in Germany, island hopping in Fiji, exploring Malaysia, climbing Machu Picchu and, at age 58, motorcycling across the Australian desert and encountering aborigines. This is no ordinary travel book or tour guide, but rather, as she says in her introduction, ""impressions of journeys, memories held in fragments like footprints on a sandy beach... or the special spice in a dish prepared by a favorite cook."" (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997
Release date: 04/01/1997
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