Saturday, July 14, 2007

Travel in mind

To truly know a country and a culture, you have to live there. A 2-week visit just doesn't cut it. Unfortunately, most of us cannot throw off our responsibilities and spend a couple of years living in Paris or London (frankly, most of us can't afford it - housing prices in London are outrageous). But one way to get around these practical considerations is to have someone else do the inhabiting for you, and then pick their brain. Therefore, I recommend two new books: Ireland in mind and France in mind, both edited by Alice Leccese Powers. These books are collections of writings, essays and letters by some of the most brilliant names in literature, and the writings touch upon the people, the culture and the food that these writers encountered during their tenure in France or Ireland. The time span of the authors ranges from Washington Irving to David Sedaris, and you can get a real sense of how these countries have changed over the years (and what essential elements have stayed the same). The tone can be wistful or humorous, frustrated or valedictory, but the one thing that all the selections have in common is that they are wonderful to read.

1 comment:

Katie said...

These two sound great. Will look for them here in Arkansas.