studies in travel writing

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Morris, Jan, Contact! Brief Encounters in a Lifetime of Travel (London: Faber and Faber, 2009).

Jan Morris has been a travel writer for over half a century, known for her ability to capture places and atmospheres. But what about the many people she has encountered along the way?

In Contact! she turns her brilliantly observant eye to the human contacts she made, across the world and through the decades. In a series of vignettes, some only a few lines long, she records hundreds of brief glimpses and fleeting encounters, celebrating the people who helped spark her view of the world and mould her responses. A vast range of human experience is here: most are anonymous, everyday encounters - children playing, a homeless man in Manhattan, a lascivious taxi-driver - but she also remembers celebrated figures, from Yves San Laurent to King Hussein of Jordan, President Truman to Peter O’Toole.

Contact! is a must for any fans of Jan Morris’s writing. Her great sense of amusement, shrewd eye for detail and huge enthusiasm for her contacts make these episodes wonderfully enjoyable - and often profound.

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