This may not be my best photograph, but it was what I had at the time. Currently in Brooklyn, hanging out in Fort Greene, listening to Bruce Hornsby, and freezing my ass off.
This was my first anthology for this project.
Disclaimer: I am not a huge fan of anthologies.
Sure, they have their benefits. You get a curated selection of readings on a particular topic. You get introduced to new authors and can cherry-pick your favorites, hunting their books or articles down later. You get different points of view, difference experiences, different voices.
But, for me, it’s an unpleasant rollercoaster ride where I never quite relax. Yes, I appreciate the benefits, very much so. But knowing that a story whose voice I am settling so comfortably in to (or should that be “into?”) is going to suddenly terminate on the next page or three… makes me uncomfortable. It’s literary speed-dating, and it gives me no time to truly get to know someone.
That being said, let us begin.
I picked up Marybeth Bond’s Traveler’ Tales Guides: A Woman’s World: True Stories of Life on the Road at the usual used bookstore. (This was on that same trip where I came home with a massive trashbag full of travel books and my fiance almost murdered me.)
This book had fifty-six(!) short stories sorted into five sections, purportedly to house the five parts of traveling. I didn’t see much coherency within each section, but I suppose it was there.
Some of the stories, as one may assume, were not too enjoyable. But others stuck out and I found myself hopping on Amazon each time I finished a particularly good one, looking for other works by the author. Often, though, I was disappointed. They would appear in other anthologies, yes, but not as authors of their own books–which was what I most wanted.
What caused these six to stand out above the rest? Their stories weren’t just a description of what they saw, but of who they met and how they felt. They felt authentic, humorous, touching, and real. There was no distance between their hearts and the page.
That’s what I prefer.
I’m reading another travel book right now (surprise!) and, now a little over 100 pages in, I’m still detached from the author. His narrative is mostly scenic with conversations peppered in. Occasional moments of confusion, isolation, and rage. The conversations save it from being completely bland. That’ll be covered on the next blagh.
The anthology had quotes interspersed within the stories. Like, in separate columns running alongside the story. I thought about including quotes at the beginning and/or end of each of my chapters, but between momentarily removing the reader from my voice/story and the work that goes into quote permissions, I’ve struck that from my “idea board.”
No, I don’t really have an idea board.
I thought about including drawings. This anthology put me off that. Not that they did it horribly but, again, it removed me from the story.
What I did love about the design/layout of the anthology was the big world map at the beginning. Each story was assigned a number and “pinned” to the map, so if you wanted to read about travels in a particular part of the world, you could reference the map. There is also a reading recommendations list at the back of the book, and an appendix, so all of that is quite useful.
And that’s all I’ve got, folks. Enjoy your evenings, mornings, or afternoons.