The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

The place to get the latest news on what’s coming up on #Gtonight. Find out what Canada’s boyfriend is up to. Share stories, pictures, favourite tv and radio episodes.

CBC TV & Radio shows plus HNIC

His work with Artists for Peace and Justice

UN Ambassadorship for The World Food Programme

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hour Books: Smile While You're Lying...

After the heaviness of last week's book, I wanted to read something a little lighter and in a more familiar realm. Chuck Thompson's book Smile While You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer fit that bill perfectly.

I'm a big fan of this genre so it's no surprise that I really liked this book. Thompson's voice really reminds me of NYC Chef Anthony Bourdain (author of Kitchen Confidential and host of No Reservations), but with a totally different spin. This excerpt from the book sums it up:
The biggest reason travel writing is dull, as Queenan correctly pointed out, is that most of it is devoid of anything approaching an authentic point of view. On those rare occasions when travel writers are allowed to express an actual opinion, it must be a completely harmless one that's also shared by the travel industry at large. These are usually offered as hard-hitting commentaries describing how “quaint” a hotel room is, how “mind-blowing” a nature park is, or how “mouthwatering” a chef's specialty is. Everything is superlative. Like being a sports fan, one of the best things about being a traveler is complaining about the parts you don't like—hating the Dallas Cowboys not only doesn't make me any less a football fan, it probably makes me a more avid one. This is a concept the travel industry has never embraced.
It was at this point that I fell in love with the book. I've always been skeptical of travel writing, always thinking there is no way that any given locale would be as "scintillating" or "quaint" or "endearing" or (insert your favourite non-descriptive descriptor) as the author wants us to believe. I liked the honesty of Thompson's book. It's not a pretty representation of the life of a travel writer, but in the same breath it doesn't totally tear down those whose careers depend on reviewing the latest white sandy beach, but it's a great representation of what got Thompson into the industry and why he thinks writers need to be more honest. Face it, what stories do you find more interesting from your travels? The totally expected or the totally unexpected? Ya, that's what I thought...

From having all his money stolen on a remote island in Thailand to running out of gas on a remote British Columbia highway, I thought this book was a great read particularly if you're interested in travelling or writing about your travels.

Don't forget to check out Chuck Thompson when he appeared on The Hour in April 2008... and then check out More With Chuck Thompson...

No comments: