Best American Travel Writing 2009

book_BATWAt an internet cafe in Bamako last spring, I got one of those rare emails that makes your day, or your week…or your year, depending on how exciting your year is.  It was from Jason Wilson, letting me know that a story I did for Harper’s, A Mind Dismembered:  In Search of the Magical Penis Thieves, had been chosen by Simon Winchester for inclusion in the Best American Travel Writing 2009.  This is always nice to hear, of course, if only because it makes you feel like maybe you’re doing something right after all.  In any case, I’ve got a copy of the book now, and I’m happy to report that it’s a great year for the anthology, with lots of fantastic work in it.  I’ve talked enough about my story, so let me recommend a few others:

Matthew Power’s piece “Mississipi Drift,” is one I read when it came out, and it was awesome: The tale of some anarchist “boat punks” who build a raft to float down the river as a kind of metaphorical middle finger to powers that be.

While living in Germany, Chuck Klosterman wrote some thoughtful, funny dispatches for Esquire, like the one in which he compared America to a meth lab.  Another of these essays, “Who is America?” is in the anthology, and is a great look at America through German eyes.

Bronwen Dickey’s story “The Last Wild River,” also just received a Gold Lowell Thomas Award, and rightly so.  The story is a vivid meditation on the impact of her father’s book, Deliverance, on the Chattooga River, on the south, and on herself.

In “The Pervert’s Grand Tour,” Tony Perrottet takes us though the sex museums of Europe:  The Marquis de Sade’s castle, Casanova’s prison cell and the British Museum’s “Secretum.”

And finally, although not in the actual anthology, listed in back under “Notable Travel Writing” is Katie Krueger‘s story “My Senegalese Cousin, the Rice-Loving Pig,” one of best pieces of travel writing about Africa I’ve seen lately, and a very fun read.

There are many more. But to read them for yourself, you’ll have to pick up a copy!

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