Youthfully upbeat, Gilman (Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress) delivers an entertaining memoir of her ill-starred attempt to circumnavigate the globe after college graduation in 1986. Eager to embark on life but unsure exactly how to do it, the author, a New Yorker, and her fair-haired Connecticut trust-fund friend, Claire, both graduates from Brown, resolved to backpack around the world for a year and become heroines in their own epic stories. Starting in Hong Kong, the two naïve 21-year-olds, armed with Linda Goodman's Love Signs, volumes of Nietzsche and a year's supply of tampons, ran into shoals fairly immediately, freaked out by fleabag hotels, vermin, importunate fellow travelers and the debilitating effects of illness, homesickness and the sole company of each other. As they roughed it through Communist China, Claire grew increasingly paranoid and delusional, eventually bolting on a bizarre bus trip that got her picked up by the police. Gilman's amusing journey focuses tightly on these first shaky seven weeks, offering the full wallop of disorienting, in-the-moment, transformative travel adventures. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Part travelog, part mystery, Gilman's latest memoir-after the best-selling Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress-begins in 1986 with the author and a friend studying a placemat at IHOP titled "Pancakes of Many Nations." With more hubris than travel experience, these freshly minted Brown graduates decided to embark on a yearlong, around-the-world backpacking trip, beginning in China. Though they had wonderful experiences, a painful secret led to their undoing. Gilman's work will appeal to those who went in search of an "authentic travel experience" and got more than they bargained for. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/08.]
Bestselling memoirist Gilman (Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, 2005, etc.) recalls ill-fated post-collegiate travels. The author's around-the-world backpacking trip began in September 1986 with a perilous nosedive into Hong Kong's international airport that prompted Gilman to reflect on her motives. After growing up poor in inner-city New York, she entered Brown University on a scholarship. When she and her friend Claire Van Houten (a pseudonym) set off to circle the globe following graduation, her motivation was more desire to emulate confident, well-heeled Claire than any personal sense of adventure. The two were eager to undertake rugged exploration in the footsteps of their admired predecessors from Odysseus to Jack Kerouac, "except with lip gloss." They vowed to travel like locals rather than tourists, and the bulk of the book humorously describes their encounters with both squalor and beauty. They ventured headlong into the People's Republic of China, about which they, and the pre-Internet world at large, had little knowledge. Hindsight allows the author to draw comparisons between her journey into adulthood and the growing pains of the newly opened communist nation. Fans of her previous work will enjoy Gilman's latest, but there's little in the way of a story until the final hundred pages, during which the author switches to present tense and her account becomes plot-driven. The tense shift is abrupt, but nothing about the plot trigger-Claire falls ill and has to return home-will come as a surprise, given the heavy-handed clues that have been dropped in advance. A flawed but ambitious and intimate coming-of-age memoir. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, SanFrancisco, Portland, Ore., Seattle
On UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN:
"[A] standout travel memoir...Gilman's descriptions of their trials and tribulations crackle with wit."
"With her trademark intelligent, irreverent voice Gilman takes us on a journey that feels terrifyingly real, immediate and life-threatening. The woman is no less than a godsend to a reading world that has become too used to lies, half-truth and spin."
From the Publisher
On UNDRESS ME IN THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN:
"[A] standout travel memoir...Gilman's descriptions of their trials and tribulations crackle with wit."Booklist"
Youthfully upbeat, Gilman delivers an entertaining memoir...offering the full wallop of disorienting, in-the-moment, transformative travel adventures."Publishers Weekly"
[An] ambitious and intimate coming-of-age memoir."Kirkus"
With her trademark intelligent, irreverent voice Gilman takes us on a journey that feels terrifyingly real, immediate and life-threatening. The woman is no less than a godsend to a reading world that has become too used to lies, half-truth and spin."Alexandra Fuller