‘The Tao of Travel’ is a sampler of travel writing from different authors and times, collected by Paul Theroux. It is also, in part, an appreciation by one travel writer of many others. And it seems like an exercise in self promotion as well, in my opinion. The many excerpts are gathered into short chapter themes with the author framing the context and providing his own quotes and comments. The book introduced me to writers of whom I was not aware. And from them there are so many memorable excerpts. For example, from Freya Stark, a line that reveals an essential theme of this book’s Tao: ”One can only really travel if one lets oneself go and takes what every place brings without trying to turn it inot a healthy private pattern of one’s own…”
As a part of the 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books Reading Challenge 2013, this is a read that includes every continent and provides some excellent possibilites for the next book.
Ways of Going Home is about many things. Things that depend upon and influence one another, like in life itseslf. Ways of Gong Home is deceptively small and easy to read. He includes little observations that have a very special, playful yet thoughtful quality. You get a feel for Chile in times of earthquakes, both political and the other kind. Among other things, it is a story concerning relationships within families, and with lovers and others. And there are his observations about writing, about being a writer. I was surprised after finishing it to see how young he is. It seems like he would have to be older to have such insight. It is another aspect of the sleight of pen characterizing this work, which seems at times like a collection of fragments, but somehow turns out to be more that the sum of those pieces.
I read this book in part to devote some focus to other cultures and continents. If you are interested, details here.
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Getting a jump on the reading challenge, and also exploring graphic storytelling, I read a Japanese book, “Fallen Words” by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It is a remarkable dunk in another culture, which I know is one of the objectives of the challenge. To me it was a perfect start to exploring other cultures through books. Fallen Words is a graphic book of stories that draw on (forgive the pun) traditional forms of storytelling. Even to begin puts you into mild culture shock. Like a text in Japanese, the book is read what we would consider backwards, starting with the cover, which is what we would consider the back cover. and each page is the same. You start at the top right of the right page and read the panels right to left and down, then go to the left page. It is something that would not work on an e-reader, so I am glad to have the paper book here. The stories depicted in Fallen Words give interesting glimpses into Japanese culture. In one poetic story, there is an innkeeper who lets a traveler stay there after the traveler claims to be wealthy. But he turns out to have no money. so in payment the guest paints some sparrows on a screen in the inn. After the traveler has gone, the innkeeper and his wife are shocked and delighted to find that each morning the birds leave the painting and fly outside, and after feeding they return to the screen. These amazing birds become a draw to others who then want to stay at the inn. but there is more woven into this magical theme.
There are eight stories in this book, each with a moral. The stories are surprising, often funny, and rich in cultural history. A good beginning to a challenge to deovte some time and focus to the other cultures and continents among the seven billion others sharing this planet.