Falling off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World

Falling off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World

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by Pico Iyer
     
 

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Showing the same sympathy and eye for the absurd that made VIDEO NIGHT IN KATHMANDU such a delight, Pico Iyer now turns to places that most of us would make a point of avoiding. Places like Paraguay, Iceland, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Bhutan.

"Lonely places," Iyer calls them, "the places that don't fit in," places that in their psychic or geographic or

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Overview

Showing the same sympathy and eye for the absurd that made VIDEO NIGHT IN KATHMANDU such a delight, Pico Iyer now turns to places that most of us would make a point of avoiding. Places like Paraguay, Iceland, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Bhutan.

"Lonely places," Iyer calls them, "the places that don't fit in," places that in their psychic or geographic or political isolation become even stranger and more remote as time goes on, more possessed by claustrophobia and loony comedy.

"Immensely resonant: a funny, stimulating, eminently humane work." (Kirkus Reviews)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Time journalist Iyer's cosmopolitan travelogue explores the cultural isolation of such regions as North Korea, Iceland and Bhutan. (May)
Library Journal
Only some of the ``lonely places'' covered in this book (North Korea, Argentina, Cuba, Iceland, Bhutan, Vietnam, Paraguay, Australia) are isolated by geography, but all are culturally or politically isolated. That few tourist itineraries include these misfit countries increases their sense of being alone in the world. Iyer, a journalist for Time and Conde Nast Traveler , writes in a cool, ironic style similar to that of the late Bruce Chatwin. His essays are more impressionistic than informative and seem intended for armchair travelers rather than adventurers. At times, Iyer is a bit too detached, too unruffled by what he experiences. He does not fully convey to us the strangeness of the strange places he has visited. Despite the lack of emotion, Iyer's impressions make interesting reading. Recommended for public libraries.-- Mary C. Kalfatovic, Telesec Lib. Svces., Washington, D.C.
Kirkus Reviews
As he did in The Lady and the Monk (1991) and Video Night in Kathmandu (1988), Iyer again turns his attention to the quirky and the quixotic, this time in what he calls "the et ceteras in the list of nations." Included in these "lonely places" are Iceland, Paraguay, Vietnam, Argentina, and Australia. Iyer confesses early on to a lifelong attraction to regions that in "their very remoteness" take on an "air of haunted glamour." He doesn't necessarily mean geographically distant, though Bhutan and Patagonia are among his destinations. Rather, it's the psychological and economic isolation of these areas—occasioned by, for example, lack of tourism and international investment—that intrigues the author. Iyer depicts with wonder and affection the varied idiosyncracies he encounters, studding his narrative with colorful, off-beat facts—e.g., that, by law, one evening each year the members of the Icelandic Parliament must speak in rhyme. Throughout, Iyer displays a winning, self- deprecatory humor. When a Cuban doctor asks him to touch his nose with his eyes closed, the author jokes, "Luckily, it is a big target: I pass with flying colors." Iyer's also aware of the dichotomies that exist within the countries he visits. Vietnam, despite decades of war, is "one of the gentlest and most peaceful countries I have ever seen." His comments on that nation's eagerness to enter the world economic market are revelatory and unexpected: "It is impossible not to feel that Saigon, with its Ca-Li-Pho-Nia Ham-Bu-Go stores and its karaoke bars, its Chiclets and water ski clubs, its private Mercedeses and hustlers and `Atlanta Placons' baseball caps—Saigon, with its rogueeconomy—is the image of the country's future." Economically written yet immensely resonant: a funny, stimulating, eminently humane work, charming and instructive.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679422648
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/19/1993
Series:
Borzoi Reader Series
Edition description:
1st American ed
Pages:
190

Meet the Author

Pico Iyer has written nonfiction books on globalism, Japan, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and forgotten places, and novels on Revolutionary Cuba and Islamic mysticism. He regularly writes on literature for The New York Review of Books, on travel for the Financial Times, and on global culture and the news for Time, The New York Times, and magazines around the world.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Japan
Place of Birth:
Oxford, England, UK

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Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of The World 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago