Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics & Professional Hedonism by Thomas Kohnstamm

Lonely Planet hires the author to update its guide to Brazil. It's his first travel writing assignment, and he quickly learns there is no way to thoroughly explore the area—much less write about it—in the time he is allotted. His advance from the publisher doesn't go far either.

As a travel author, I can identify with Kohnstamm's dilemma. Time wasn't as big an issue for me as money (at least until the last month when I realized I had blown nine months writing 30% of the book). I doubt that any travel guides end up making much money for their authors (though travel memoirs may). Alas I cannot identify with Kohnstamm's tales of debauchery. Researching my book was a solitary process with neither female nor chemical companionship.

Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? is a funny and engaging tale. Along the way it exposes some of the dirty truths of the travel writing industry—or confirms them depending on one's cynicism.

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