Thursday, May 21, 2009
Maybe you are going someplace exotic this summer. Maybe your plans are already made: to climb to the high peak or dive deep in the clear blue ocean or to explore that far-away city. However, if this summer you'll be in more familiar locations with some time on your hands, you can always get a taste of the excitement through travel literature. In these stories, intrepid travelers with a gift for storytelling have set their adventures to words.
In Beyond the Sky and the Earth, Jamie Zeppa decided to not go to graduate school, and instead to travel to Bhutan, a mostly closed Himalayan country with a need for English teachers, in 1989. She left her overly cautious grandfather and her very stable boyfriend to seek an unknown adventure with unexpected consequences. Through Jamie's eyes, we meet her students, we learn about the customs, and we see the incredible landscape of this mountainous, Buddhist country.
Annie Hawes takes on a different kind of adventure, into the flavors of northern Italy. With her sister, she signs up to graft roses for the winter in a small Northern Italian town. She doesn't know much about roses except that they smell nice, but figures she will catch on when she arrives. This account reveals Annie's experiences as she inadvertently breaks social customs and misunderstands communications. The funny mishaps of the British sisters and the delightful descriptions of their meals remind readers of their own experiences of learning to love a new place.