|Lisa Alpine, et al.: Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel|
Globe Pequot Press (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0-7627-2377-7
Meet 12 very different women with one passion in common -- to travel the world. As members of the Wild Writing Women, they meet one Wednesday a month at the London Wine Bar in San Francisco. There they do what the best writers groups do -- listen to, critique, encourage and enjoy one another's words. A couple of years back, they conceived the idea of pooling their tales of travel adventure into an anthology, Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel, that comprises two contributions from each woman. The stories touch on destinations as diverse as the islands of Madagascar and Venice.
Lauren Cuthbert climbs an impossible 1,729 steps to the top of Burma's Mandalay Hill in one anecdote and to the rim of an active Hawaiian volcano in another. Lynn Ferrin scales volcanoes too, in the Galapagos Islands to see the giant tortoises for which the islands were named. Jacqueline Harmon Butler goes to a small Italian village in search of an antique horseshoe and to Paris to find romance. One hopes that she winds up enjoying a meal as erotic as the one that Linda Watanabe McFerrin shares in a Venetian restaurant!
Occasionally, the stories recount travels across a landscape more personal than geographic. Danielle Machotka discovers her Czech roots at a burial ceremony in Prague and her latent spirituality during a serendipitous stay in a Spanish monastery. Christi Phillips falls in love with a stranger in a hotel overlooking Red Square, Jennifer Leo falls in love with herself in the lobby of a Hong Kong hotel, and neither tale ventures outside the walls of its hotel.
Some adventures yielded rather more than the traveler bargained for, such as Cathleen Miller's Scotch spirits in Scotland, McFerrin's Mexican witch and Phillip's voodoo-conjured spirits in New Orleans. Pamela Michael carefully chose a safe, Swiss precisioned rafting holiday, yet still found herself braving unexpected risks. A few of the trips fell through the basement of the wanderer's expectations like Lisa Alpine's Madagascan holiday to Hell(-Ville), Carla King's seemingly endless solitary motorcycle trip through China and Alison Wright's body-smashing bus accident hours from anywhere in a country whose language she could not speak.
Each anecdote in the collection resonates with its author's willingness to chance new experiences and to embrace whatever she might learn from it. In the last story, Miller takes a few weeks to tour slowly her own country by train, to rediscover the new in the familiar and to share the joy of a traveler's return to her home -- something that even the most intrepid armchair traveler might do worse than remember.
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