Paul Theroux Visits the U.S.A. for Smithsonian
Going for a drive this weekend? Or this end-of-summer? Or just staying home and staring balefully at your suitcase? Here’s some happy travel reading, either way.
Paul Theroux, who is generally not my favorite travel writer, was asked by Smithsonian what his ideal trip would be, and this world traveler, who has been in just about every corner of the earth–on the map or off–chose an American Road Trip.
What is it with Americans and the Road Trip? Can we thank President Dwight Eisenhower for the Interstate Highway system? But no, it started before the 1950s. Does it spring from our feeling of unlimited horizons? Are there other countries that love the road as Americans do?
Five other stellar travel writers played this little game with Smithsonian, picking their yearned for destination, with some surprising but enjoyable results. I clicked over to the Theroux piece, intending to skim the first page and move on, but he captured my attention and totally charmed me. This is the same sharply observant Theroux, but definitely a kinder, gentler, man than his generally grouchy persona. So I highly recommend that you take a look at Taking the Great American Road Trip. One can only hope that he will develop this wonderful piece of travel literature into a book length treatment. I have no doubt that his 3500 mile trip gave him enough material. Perhaps he will reconsider Santa Fe.
And speaking of travel literature, accompanying this article, Smithsonian chimes in with a list by Abby Callard of Great Road Trips in American Literature. I’m sure you can find many additions to this list!
If you are in the mood for something more adventurous, Adventure Scout posted this back in July, about the Top Ten Adventure Novelists of All Times. (Update 6/27: Apparently this blog has been deactivated. Sorry) These are very interesting, and the list includes many books that should be on every traveler’s library. Again, we can keep adding to this list, I’ll bet.
Your turn—what would you add to these lists? Which ones are you putting on your to-be-read list? And what would you like Paul Theroux to see that he missed on his first grand road trip?
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