30 March 2010

reading: the lunatic express

This afternoon, I signed The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World...via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes by Carl Hoffman (Broadway, 2010) out of Ballard Library based on fellow travel writer, Jenna Schnuer's recommendation. After giving it a quick looksee, I'm pretty geeked out to read it, although the author touting 159 days of travel over two years did not make me blink an eye.

Here's what Simon Winchester of the Wall Street Journal had to say:

“Carl Hoffman, a courageous and interestingly untroubled man from Washington, D.C., has done a great service by reminding us, in The Lunatic Express, of this abiding truism: that the world’s ordinary traveler is compelled to endure all too much while undertaking the grim necessities of modern movement…Mr. Hoffman spent a fascinating year going around the world precisely as most of the world's plainest people do—not on JetBlue or United or American or Trailways, modes of transport that look positively heavenly by comparison, but in the threadbare conveyances of the planet's billions….He learns along the way a great deal about the habits of the world's peripatetic poor, and he writes about both the process and the people with verve and charity, making this book both extraordinary and extraordinarily valuable….It is a wise and clever book too, funny, warm and filled with astonishing characters. But it also represents an important exercise, casting an Argus-eye on a largely invisible but un-ignorable world. It is thus a book that deserves to be read widely. Perhaps in some airport in a blinding rainstorm in the Midwest, while waiting for yet another infernally delayed American plane.”

(Update 4/19: Hoffman traveled 159 days over the course of one year - not two. Read the book, absolutely loved it and cannot recommend it enough to my fellow adventurers and wanderlusters.)

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