Borges and Me: An Encounter by Jay Parini

This seemed the perfect time to read a story that took place in the early 1970s, when Jay Parini arrived at the oldest university in Scotland in flight from his draft board in the U.S., which had designs on sending him to Vietnam. I had just published an article about my flight from my draft board that same period, “Crested Butte 1970: Reflections on a Town in Transition.”  My flight would be to Guatemala with the Peace Corps, but I also had ties to St. Andrews Scotland where Parini had escaped. My wife and I visited my mother’s cousin and […]

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Book Review, Travel; To Timbuktu: A Journey Down the Niger

  One of the reasons this book caught my attention is that I was working in Sierra Leone several years before Mark Jenkins started his trip down the Niger River in 1990. I traveled up-country on the border of Guinea with some missionary friends and have never forgotten the steady beat of drums in the darkness, a reminder of what a different world I’d just entered. Mark Jenkins, a travel fanatic and writer, sets out with three friends to attempt their first descent of the Niger River in kayaks, with the goal of reaching the legendary city of Timbuktu. The […]

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Book Review – Travel: Topographies

Topographies by Stephen Benz Reviewed by Mark D. Walker I was drawn to this book because the author had written about my favorite part of the world, Guatemala, as well as several parts of the Wild West. The reader is taken through a diversity of locations starting with the Everglades and the sad story of the mass killing of egrets. Forty to sixty hunters would descend and let loose a “barrage,” killing hundreds of birds. The author goes beyond the location and even its beauty with a dramatic focus on history. In Nebraska, we are introduced to the plight of […]

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Book Review – Travel: The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road By Paul Theroux Reviewed by Mark D. Walker This book celebrates 50 years of travel writing and is just one of the reasons Theroux is known as the “Godfather of contemporary travel writing”. It’s an invaluable portal into the world of timeless travel on a global scale by one of the great travel authors. Theroux shares some of the books and authors who influenced and inspired him. He intersperses selections from his many books as well as those of the best travelers like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, James […]

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Book Review – Travel: On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey

On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey By Paul Theroux Reviewed by Mark D. Walker I’ve travelled much of the world over the last forty years thanks to Paul Theroux’s many books which now number 56. I was especially eager to read this book since I’ve made the journey through Mexico several times with my wife in a car (VW bug) and a pick-up truck, so I was familiar with some of the challenges, dangers not to mention adventures the author would encounter. The “Godfather of Travel Writing” follows his own critique for what makes a superior travel book, […]

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Book Review – Travel: My Two Wars

My Two Wars by Moritz Thomsen Reviewed by Mark D. Walker This would be the last time we’d hear from “one of the best American writers of the century,” according to the Washington Post review of this book. Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife and one of the best war correspondents adds, “wonderful sentences sound like a speaking voice, and the voice belongs to a man alone, a man both deeply grave and very funny, ironic and compassionate, totally honest, and without vanity.” As this book was completed shortly before his death and wouldn’t be published for four years after he’d […]

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Book Review – Travel: Living Poor: Peace Corps Chronicle

“Living Poor: Peace Corps Chronicle” by Moritz Thomsen Reviewed By Mark D. Walker   This would be Moritz’s first and best known book, about his volunteer work in tropical Ecuador, where despite language and cultural barriers and a serious fatalism amongst the local population, he pushed ahead with a series of projects which would impact him and his village in ways he couldn’t imagine. As a Peace Corps Volunteer he put down roots, which allowed him to immerse himself in the local culture and economy and understand its dynamics like few other ex-pats. This allowed him to enter the skin […]

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Book Review – Travel: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar By Paul Theroux Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Follow Theroux as he embarks on a 25,000-mile epic journey through Asia retracing the steps of a trip he’d taken thirty years before. Since then, Theroux records phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India grows, while Burma is mothered by a military dictatorship and, most interestingly, Vietnam flourished despite the havoc the United States had unleashed on it. No one describes the texture, sights, sounds and the flavors of this changing landscape better […]

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Book Review – Travel: Figures in a Landscape: People and Places Essays: 2001-2016

Figures in a Landscape: People and Places Essays: 2001-2016 By Paul Theroux Reviewed by Mark D. Walker The “Godfather of contemporary travel writing” has probably chronicled more places in the world than almost any other author. The second page of his book lists the forty Theroux publication which gives one a sense of what a prolific writer he is. This is his third volume of essays, following Sunrise with Seamonsters (1984) and Fresh Air Fiend (2001) for a total of 134 essays written over 53 years. This new collection of essays is a veritable cornucopia of sights characters and experiences […]

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Book Review- Travel: The Farm on the River of Emeralds

The Farm on the River of Emeralds By Moritz Thomsen Reviewed by Mark D. Walker While perusing my favorite books above my desk I realized that I’d never reviewed a book of my favorite Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Moritz Thomsen. Although he is best known for probably the most read Returned Peace Corps Volunteer book, Living Poor, published in 1969, it is correctly rated as one of the best Returned Peace Corps Volunteer memoirs of all time. my favorite is The Farm on the River of Emeralds, is the sequel and tells a tale of endless reverses as a part […]

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