studies in travel writing

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Kohnstamm, Thomas, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics and Professional Hedonism (New York: Random House, 2008).

For those who think that travel guidebooks are the gospel truth.

The waitress suggests that I come back after she closes down the restaurant, around midnight. We end up having sex in a chair and then on one of the tables in the back corner. I pen a note in my Moleskine that I will later recount in the guidebook review, saying that the restaurant is a pleasant surprise . . . and the table service is friendly. Thomas Kohnstamm, professional travel writer and author of numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks

WANTED: Travel Writer for Brazil
QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED
Decisiveness: the ability to desert your entire previous life - including well-salaried office job, attractive girlfriend, and basic sanity for less than minimum wage
Attention to detail: the skill to research northeastern Brazil, including transportation, restaurants, hotels, culture, customs, and language, while juggling sleep deprivation, nonstop nightlife, and excessive alcohol consumption
Creativity: the imagination to write about places you never actually visit
Resourcefulness: utilizing persuasion, seduction, and threats, when necessary, to secure a place to stay for the evening once your pitiable advance has been (mis)spent
Resilience: determination to overcome setbacks such as bankruptcy, disillusionment, and an ill-fated one-night stand with an Austrian flight attendant

As Kohnstamm comes to personal terms with each of these job requirements, he unveils the underside of the travel industry and its often-harrowing effect on writers, travelers, and the destinations themselves. Moreover, he invites us into his world of compromising and scandalous situations in one of the most exciting countries as he races against an impossible deadline.


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)

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