This compilation of a half-century’s worth of travel journals, most of them previously unpublished, constitutes a lively “on the road” chronicle for poet and City Lights Booksellers cofounder Ferlinghetti. Spanning 1960 to 2010, these “peripatetic pages,” as he calls them, capture their author criss-crossing America, traveling through Europe and Latin America, and, in one memorably bleak report, riding the Trans-Siberian Express across Russia in midwinter in 1967—and then riding it back to Moscow after being denied berth on a Japan-bound ship. Some of Ferlinghetti’s accounts, like those of his travels to Latin America in 1960, are little more than collages of photographic details of the land and its people. Others, like his “Mexican Night” journal from 1970, are freewheeling fantasias rife with ribald imagery. Two standout chronicles, of travels through postrevolutionary Cuba in 1960, before the Bay of Pigs invasion, and through Spain under the Franco regime in 1965, are examples of travel writing at its best, filled with sympathetic and enlightening portraits of people and countries whose reality frequently contrasts with depictions of them in the popular press. Ferlinghetti punctuates a number of journal accounts with poems and beautiful poetic imagery, such as his description of dunes on the beach in Mexico “as if the mountains had allowed the wind to come through and make these shadows of themselves out of sand.” Illustrated with many of his hand-drawn sketches, these journals illuminate the inspirations for some of Ferlinghetti’s best poems and are a major addition to his literary legacy. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/2015 Release date: 09/07/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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