Robyn Davidson's selection of travel writing for Journeys: An Anthology is absolutely peerless. The travel writing anthology is a genre that has produced some spectacularly entertaining work (and it has to be said, some fairly workaday stuff). If one were looking for an anthology of evocative travel writing from some of the greatest writers ever to put pen to paper (leavened with contributions from some of the most stellar talents of our own time), this one will be hard to beat. What about Vincent Van Gogh, Marcel Proust and Ernest Hemingway rubbing shoulders with Hunter S Thompson, Gore Vidal and V S Naipaul? Or Simone de Beauvoir and Doris Lessing contrasted with Bruce Chatwin and Joseph Conrad? In fact, it's not just the capricious (but cannily balanced) list of contributors that provide the greatest pleasures here (although everything from Samuel Butler's ramblings in London's Cheapside to Joan Didion's blistering recreation of El Salvador make fascinating reading), it's the sheer eccentricity of some of the choices that delights. For instance, the inclusion of Elizabeth David's introduction to her classic Mediterranean Food is truly inspired: we look at this essay afresh, divorced here from its original agenda. And the delirious passages from Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas make an even more idiosyncratic impression when juxtaposed with Mary McCarthy's uncompromising picture of Vietnam. And the controversial Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini's evocation of the scents of India is another example of just how far Davidson is prepared to cast his net. With such a selection, few readers will respond with equal enthusiasm to every entry, but the sheer variety here offers a unique panoply of the best travel writing. --Barry Forshaw
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Used availability for Robyn Davidson's The Picador Book of Journeys
July 2001 : UK Hardback
July 2002 : UK Paperback