The act of passing on a passion is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Book critic Maureen Corrigan promises that the books on this list — mostly slim, unforgettable volumes about places or things that the writers themselves deeply love — are merrily infectious.
Adventure writer Randy Wayne White. He wrote the "Out There" column for "Outside" magazine for many years. He's now a monthly columnist for "Men's Health" and is the author of the new book, "The Sharks of Lake Nicaragua: True tales of adventure, travel, and fishing." (The Lyons Press).
Writer Robert Sullivan. His new book "The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures At the Edge of a City" (Scribner) is about his intrepid trek into the swamp land five miles outside of New York City, where decades of garbage, chemicals, and corpses have been dumped. Ian Frazier calls is "funny, interesting, surprising and bizarre." Part of the book was excerpted recently in The New York Times Magazine (Feb 15). Sullivan is contributing editor at Vogue. He also writes for The New Yorker, Conde Naste Travler, The New Republic and Rolling Stone.
From Australia, adventurer Robyn Davidson. Her book "Tracks" was the account of her 1,700 mile journey across Australia with four camels and a dog. Her next trip was a trek across the Indian desert with nomads, which she chronicled in the new book "Desert Places."
Merrill died Monday at age 68. The son of the founder of the Merrill Lynch brokerage house, Merrill traveled to Europe at age 24, a newly published poet "meaning to stay as long as possible". That was in 1950. His memoir "A Different Person" detailed his two and a half years there, and featured encounters with psychoanalysts, new and old lovers, and Alice Toklas. Merrill wrote eleven books of poems, and was the winner of two National Book Awards, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, and the Pulitzer Prize. (Rebroadcast)
Poet James Merrill. The son of the founder of the Merrill Lynch brokerage house, Merrill took to Europe at age 24, a newly published poet "meaning to stay as long as possible". That was in 1950. His new memoir "A Different Person" (Knopf) details his two and a half years there, and features encounters with psychoanalysts, new and old lovers, and Alice Toklas. Merrill is the author of eleven books of poems, the winner of two National Book Awards, the Bolligen Prize for Poetry, and the Pulitzer Prize.
Book critic John Leonard reviews "African Laughter," Lessing's memoir of the four times she visited the country of her birth--now called Zimbabwe--and her impressions of its changing social and political climate.
Writer Eddy L. Harris. Like many African Americans, Harris felt a kinship to the continent of his ancestors. He went to Africa, traveled throughout the continent, and came away feeling disillusioned and feeling that he was not an African at heart after all. He's written about his journey in the new book, "Native Stranger" (published by Simon and Schuster). Harris' earlier book was the critically acclaimed "Mississippi Solo."
Travel writer Pico Iyer (rhymes with 'tire"). Iyer has an article on traveling to Vietnam in the new edition of "Conde Nast Traveler." Iyer's the author of "Video Night In Kathmandu" and the new book, "The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto".
Writer William Least Heat Moon. His 1983 chronicle of traveling the back roads of America, "Blue Highways," became a literary classic and a huge best-seller. In his new book, "PrairyErth," Least Heat Moon looks at the geography, geology, and history of one county in Kansas. (The book's published by Houghton Mifflin, and "PrairyErth" is the correct spelling. There's no second "a").
Travel and adventure writer Eric Hansen. His new book, "Motoring with Mohammed," is a first-person account of Hansen's attempt to recover the dairies he buried on the coast of Yemen a decade before, after being ship wrecked there.
Travel writer and essayist Jan Morris. In her 1974 autobiography "Conundrum," Morris talked about her search for sexual identity and her sex change operation. The sequel, "Pleasures of a Tangled Life," is a collection of personal essays describing the experiences and sensations that have brought Morris pleasure over the years.
Novelist, essayist, and reporter Barbara Grizutti Harrison. Her new book is called "Italian Days." It's a chronicle of her travels through Italy, but it's also more introspective, influenced by her parents Italian heritage and her conversion to Catholicism after a childhood spent in the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Book Critic John Leonard reviews a posthumous collection of essays by writer Bruce Chatwin. The collection is titled What Am I Doing Here? Chatwin, who wrote extensively about his world travels and the collisions of cultures, died last year from a Chinese fungus that infected him on one of his trips.
Writer Joe Kane. In 1985, Kane, who had been a freelance writer living in San Francisco, was asked to follow the first attempt to navigate the entire Amazon River, starting in the Andes of Peru and ending in the Atlantic Ocean. Kane was going to follow the group at intervals, publicizing their progress for the American and European press.
Writer Ian Frazier is known primarily as a humor writer for The New Yorker magazine. His new book, Great Plains, is describes a history of the region through Frazier's own trips driving 25,000 miles in a criss-cross of the area, and hours of research in the New York's Public Library.
Matthiessen is a naturalist and novelist who co-founded The Paris Review. His nonfiction has explored Zen Buddhism and American Indians, among other topics. A new collection of his short stories, spanning his entire career, his nearly four-decade long career, just been published.