Where Was I? A Travel Writer's Memoir

By Tom Miller

Biography / History / Memoir

I’ve gotten to know the author over the years based on a shared appreciation of iconic writer Moritz Thomsen, who Tom met in Ecuador and our love of travel and travel writing. The Panama Hat Trail is one of my all-time favorite tales, and I was impressed when I learned it took the author two trips and eight months to complete it! My wife, who is Guatemalan, loved How I Learned English, a series of stories of Latinos learning English.

Since the author is considered by many as one of the best nonfiction/travel writers, I headed for the chapter on that subject. Initially, the author didn’t know that travel writing was a genre, but quickly learned, “Great travel writing describes what’s going on when nobody’s looking. It consists of equal parts curiosity, vulnerability, and vocabulary. It is not simply for know-it-alls or the indecisive. “A well-grounded sense of place is a challenge for the writer.” That says it all.

But wait! He goes on with, “Surely as buses plunge off Peruvian mountainsides, his favorite travel accounts are full of, “polemic, prejudice, and adversity; revelation, conquest, and triumph.” And that the best travel writing “elegantly addresses history, geography, and politics; biology, culture, even criminology. Its refreshing honesty reveals a world of surprising love and disappointing fools, unforeseen circumstances, and stimulating challenges, ” All of this is a reminder of why I love travel writing and everything Miller writes.

Book reviewed by Mark D. Walker
United States