Merry Wanderer of the Night + travel writing

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?

Thomas Kohnstamm's travel book Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics, and Professional Hedonism

was published in 2008 and raised some questions about the ethics of Lonely Planet guidebooks and some questions about Kohnstamm himself. You can read more about that here because honestly I'm not going to waste a lot of time on this book.

Kohnstamm quit his life, his girlfriend, his office job, all because of an author to write a Lonely Planet guide to Brazil. On his way there he realized that the advance he had from Lonely Planet was not nearly enough money to get around all of Brazil. He also realized that there was no time to write and travel. He meets several colorful characters along the way, most of which are women, drunk, drug addled, or all three. He stays in a hotel where the rooms are separated by a shelving unit which allows him to hear every fart of his neighbor. Basically, let me sum the book up for you: He goes to Brazil, has lots of sex with trashy women, drinks a lot, worries about how much money he has, and cuts corners writing his guidebook. Do travel writers go to hell? Most likely yes.

I didn't hate this book, well, not exactly. If you decide to read this here are some tips:

  1. Skip the first 72 pages. Here is the summary: Thomas is sad at his job in New York City and his girlfriend is mean to him. He decides he is going to leave. He has a fist fight with his best friend who he calls the Doctor. They have been drinking a lot. Thomas likes to drink.
  2. Do not believe anything Thomas says to be 100 percent true because it's probably not.
  3. Be prepared for several sexual encounters and lots of whining about how women are mean to him.
The middle of the book is actually pretty good, well, in comparison to the beginning of the book. The bad thing is that the beginning is about half the book.

Pub. Date: April 2008
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 288pp

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