The Best American Travel Writing 2008

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Overview

In his introduction to The Best American Travel Writing 2008, editor Anthony Bourdain writes that the pieces that “spoke the loudest and most powerfully to me were usually evocative of the darker side, those moments fearful, sublime, and absurd; the small epiphanies familiar to the full-time traveler, interspersed by a sense of dislocation—and the strange, unholy need to record the experience.” With this in mind, Bourdain and series editor Jason Wilson have assembled a wide-ranging and wonderfully eclectic ...

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Overview

In his introduction to The Best American Travel Writing 2008, editor Anthony Bourdain writes that the pieces that “spoke the loudest and most powerfully to me were usually evocative of the darker side, those moments fearful, sublime, and absurd; the small epiphanies familiar to the full-time traveler, interspersed by a sense of dislocation—and the strange, unholy need to record the experience.” With this in mind, Bourdain and series editor Jason Wilson have assembled a wide-ranging and wonderfully eclectic collection that delves headlong into those darker moments and subtle realizations, looking to absorb, provoke, and offer a moving record of what it means to travel in the twenty-first century.

Here you will find Seth Stevenson’s extraordinary experience of “Looking for Mammon in the Muslim World” as he makes his way through sweltering and paradoxical Dubai. Exotic tastes and larger-than-life personalities abound as Bill Buford accompanies the chocolate maker Frederick Schilling to the rain forests of Brazil. And on the other side of the world, Calvin Trillin trolls Singapore for the ultimate street food, while Kristin Ohlson delves into the harrowing challenges faced by proprietors of restaurants in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The twenty-five pieces in this collection have their fair share of the absurd as well. David Sedaris explains the hilarious highs (sundaes) and woeful lows (sobbing with your seatmate) of flying Business Elite. Gary Shteyngart goes “To Russia for Love” during St. Petersburg’s vodka-soaked wedding season. And Emily Maloney gets up close and personal with her fellow travelers—and their massage devices—in a South American hostel.

Culled from an amazing variety of publications, “the writing in this volume is so vibrantly good, you’ll feel like you’ve armchair-traveled around the world” (Chicago Sun Times).

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
If you're hunting for a travel book gift suggestion, you can't do better than this annual compilation. Each year, series editor Jason Wilson manages to corral a talented guest maestro to orchestrate an anthology that somehow always surprises. For 2008, master chef and travel maven Anthony Bourdain gets the nod. Among the other contributors are David Sedaris, Paul Theroux, Catherine Watson, Calvin Trillin, and Gary Shteyngart.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616848637
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/8/2008
  • Series: Best American Travel Writing Series
  • Pages: 295
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

JASON WILSON is the drinks columnist at the Washington Post, the series editor of The Smart Set , and the author of Boozehound: On The Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated . He teaches at Drexel University.

Biography

Like all great chefs, Anthony Bourdain is a true jack-of-all-trades. Just as a truly skilled chef would not limit himself to, say, cooking risotto, Bourdain has approached his writing career in much the same way. His repertoire consists of comedic crime novels, autobiographical travelogues, exposes, and historical explorations -- not to mention a collection of tasty recipes.

Bourdain's career has been characterized by more unexpected twists and turns than one would find in one of his novels. After the native New Yorker graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, he opened his own classic French Bistro, Brasserie Les Halles. However, never satisfied with simply traveling a single avenue, Bourdain tried his hand at penning a novel. The results were wholly unexpected: A witty, gritty mob tale set in the Little Italy section of Manhattan, Bone in the Throat was published in 1995. Bourdain's second novel, Gone Bamboo, followed two years later, and once again the writer's innate knack for black humor was on full display. Publishers Weekly confidently christened him "a new master of the wiseass crime comedy."

Of course, by the time the public had placed Bourdain in a specific literary niche, he was already on to bigger game. In 1999, The New Yorker published "Don't Eat Before Reading This," his scathing exposé of conditions within certain New York restaurants. The article, which garnered wide attention, would ultimately evolve into the critically lauded full-length book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Bourdain brought the same cutting humor and confident swagger that marked his novels to his first nonfiction work, establishing a distinct voice that followed him from genre to genre. Jumping from memoir (The Nasty Bits) to biography (Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical) to culinary how-to (Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook), Bourdain served up his smartypants prose with the same skill he brought to his celebrated cuisine.

In the end, even as Bourdain continues to wear many hats -- master chef, restaurant entrepreneur, novelist, essayist, TV star -- his heart still lies in the kitchen. "When you've been a cook and chef for twenty-eight years, as I have, you never really look at the world from any other perspective," he told PreviewPort.com in 2002. "In many ways that's helpful with all the nonsense -- as one tends to have low expectations. For the time being -- I'm making it up as I go along and trying to enjoy the ride while it lasts."

Good To Know

When PreviewPort.com asked Bourdain who he would invite to "the ultimate dinner party," he responded with his typical deadpan flair, "Graham Greene, Iggy Pop, Kim Philby, Louise Brooks, Hede Massing" and would host it in "the squalid back room of the Siberia Bar in NYC."

You can add sitcom creator to Bourdain's long list of accomplishments. In 2005, FOX TV produced a comedy series based on his book Kitchen Confidential only to unceremoniously cancel the series before it even aired.

Bourdain can currently be seen traveling the world in search of the ultimate eating experience in his very own series Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Discovery Channel.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 25, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      High school diploma, Dwight Englewood School, 1973; A.O.S. degree, The Culinary Institute of America, 1978
    2. Website:

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