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TraveLit--A blog about travel literature. 

     Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.

Review: The Summer of My Greek Taverna

The Summer of My Greek Taverna
By Tom Stone. Simon & Schuster, 2002, 250 pp.

What is it about running a restaurant that has such great appeal? So many people I know have longed to do it. I myself once planned on opening a restaurant with a friend, and I don’t even like to eat!

Tom Stone is—or was—one of the smitten. As The Summer of My Greek Taverna opens, he receives a call from a friend, Theologos, on the island of Patmos, where Stone lived before moving to Crete with his French wife, Danielle, and their two children. When Theologos asks if Stone would like to rent his taverna for the summer, the author finds it hard to resist. He loves to cook. He remembers sitting for many hours in that taverna and thinking he could absolutely do a better job of running it. Moreover, he has heard from friends who own restaurants in Mykonos that you could make enough money in a summer to last a year. He could stop teaching English, Danielle could stop painting tourist-trade icons, and they could get back to being artists.

From the first, Stone drops signs that all might not go smoothly.  Read More 

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Reader Recommendation :The Swamp

David, who has lived in Florida for many years, recommends The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise, by Michael Grunwald (Simon & Schuster, 2006), a book widely praised when it appeared for its riveting storytelling and thorough research.

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Review: Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country

Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile’s Pilgrimage to the Mother Country.
By Joe Queenan. Henry Holt, 2004, 240 pp.

In an August 2016 entry for this blog, I linked to CNN’s “15 Funniest Travel Books Ever Written (in English).” Queenan’s nicely punning title came in ninth on the list. As I love humor in travel writing, and Joe Queenan can be funny, my expectations for this book were high.

As Queenan explains in his introduction, he is married to an Englishwoman, and he has been to Britain many times, often visiting her relatives. In 2002, he decided he wanted to go on his own. The British had always baffled him, he says, and he wanted to figure out what made them tick. Queenan Country, published two years later, he calls “the confessions of a reluctant Anglophile,” a narrative expressing his feelings toward the British, both positive and negative. “Ultimately,” he writes, “I wanted this project to be a cross between a valentine and a writ of execution, an affectionate jeremiad, if you will.”

Queenan’s six-week tour therefore focuses less on Britain than on the British, whom he often contrasts with Americans, shooting barbs at both. He does travel—breezing through Liverpool, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other places, offering humorous historical synopses and commentary as he goes. But his interest lies in British character and customs.

The British are easy to make mock—they have served many a satirist well—and the earlier part of the book has some very funny lines.  Read More 
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