Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Book: Roger Rapoport's "I Should Have Stayed Home"

When it comes to fiction, I have never liked short stories.  I always want more.  I become too interested in the characters and want them to be developed further.  This is why I tend to be drawn toward multi-book series.  I've wondered if the same applied to non-fiction.  I imagined, since there really aren't any real characters to be developed that non-fiction would not have the same problem.  "I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of Great Writers (Travel Literature Series)", a collection of the worst trips of journalists, writers, and novelists edited by Roger Rapoport, would be my test.

The book is a collection of fifty, three to six page, accounts of travel disasters.  I felt kinship with this topic because of my crazy experiences on the way to Saint Jean Pied de Port so I thought I would really enjoy this book.  Sadly, I was disappointed.  Of the fifty I only remember one.  It's a harrowing plane trip to London recounted by Michael Dorris (Who sadly took his life only three years after this compilation was published).  When I read Dorris' account I was laughing out loud.  My experience in Spain is a pale shadow of his tale.

Of the remaining forty-nine stories, there are maybe a handful that are satisfying - The woman waking up in Guatemala covered by army ants who escapes them by running to the hotel lobby just to cowered under an umbrella to avoid the palm-sized scorpions falling from the rafters comes to mind.  The rest are either about just ordinary travel delays or are people whining about not getting what they wanted out of their trips.  There must be a better set of travel disaster stories out there somewhere.  This ... is not it.

I did learn that short non-fiction anthologies do not seem to have the same problems that I associate with short story fiction.  Of course, if the stories had been more interesting and less whiny, I may have another opinion.

This was such a good concept ... but it doesn't deliver.  Not recommended.

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