News & Opinion (updated November 18, 2013)
Deer Hunting in Paris Is Here!
The poignant, hilarious, and gritty new memoir Deer Hunting in Paris by Paula Young Lee is available now in both print and ebook editions. Follow along as this Korean-American former vegetarian preacher's daughter learns about love, hunting, DIY food culture, and dressing a kill.
Kermit, my devoted partner and laptop, was sick. His screen was cracked, he wouldn’t charge, and he’d cannibalized most of his battery life. We were in Beijing for a month and actually I hadn’t been so healthy myself. My first week was marked by a nasty cold, a migraine, and constipation—who knows, maybe a dash of black lung.
I was pushing 30 and had been laid off from my marketing job in New York seven months ago, so I was in Beijing escaping my unemployment. The recession was lingering and after 120 job applications, I decided I would sublet my studio apartment and use the money to skip town. I’d been to Beijing once before and loved it, and though I didn’t want to move to China, I did want to visit while I applied for New York-based jobs using the same avenues I would at home: internet job boards, email, Skype, LinkedIn, and my online portfolio. Of course I needed Kermit for all this, and what’s more, we’d been through a lot together over the years. He’d been all over New York and spent a year with me in Argentina; I really hoped this wasn’t the end of the line.Read on...
From the mountaintop road above Kvivik, green slopes fell steeply away to the sea, and the sea swept my eyes outward, over the village, to the soft shapes of other islands drifting in the pale blue distance. More than a thousand years of Faroe Islands history lay in that view. It was like looking at a map of time itself.
Kvivik is a Viking village – the real thing, not a restoration – still perched exactly where its ancient founders wanted it: Deep in a narrow fjord, where the sea was calm. On a beach where boats could be drawn up and driftwood gathered. At the mouth of a stream, for fresh water. Among grassy hillsides, where sheep and a cow or two might graze.
The town is bigger now, of course, but not much, and it boasts electricity and television and a few email addresses. All the same, if its original settlers pulled their longboats up on that beach tonight, they’d feel right at home. They could even stay with relatives.Read on...
“Stay away from my son,” his father said as we stood alone on the balcony. Tears were threatening to burst through my barely-calm exterior when I noticed Kirin, my fiance, listening from inside the Bombay apartment. His warm, brown eyes pleaded with me to hold strong against the force of his father’s words.
Kirin’s father clutched the balcony railing as if to crush it, his brown skin stretched tight over his knuckles. He looked at me with determination, his graying eyebrows set straight across his forehead. The humid, late afternoon air wrapped around us, causing beads of sweat to dot his forehead and stick his white tunic to his wide chest. Though city life continued below—noisy cars, yelling street vendors, and drifting smells of curry—I found myself frozen, struggling to absorb what I’d just heard. Ganesh, my Hindu talisman, remained in my pocket, pushing against my hip to remind me of his presence.Read on...
In later years...President Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Longworth, congratulated me every time we saw each other: “You got out. So wise.”
—“Reflections on Glory Reflected,” in United States: Essays 1952-1992
The day Gore Vidal died rain fell hard on the roof of his old house alongside the ruins of Our Lady of Carmen in Antigua, Guatemala. Braids of thick plaster twisted gracefully around chipped columns, dripping after the downpour that signaled the end of the canicula. Those golden weeks of sun and hummingbirds in the midst of the rainy season were over.
Of tens of thousands of yearly visitors to Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, few realize that the late author Gore Vidal lived here during the impressionable first years of his writing career. I lived around the corner from his old house for eleven years, and happened to be visiting a friend in Antigua when news came of the author’s death. I felt moved to walk over to the old neighborhood through town, alert to “that sharp smell” that Vidal once wrote was the scent “of most Latin towns: green papaya, dust, damp stone and plaster, and something else, unidentifiable, yet insistent, ubiquitous, death sweet.”
In my mind, travelers are hunters. What do you hunt for when you travel? Experiences, people, souvenirs? We all hunt for something.
I hunt for places.
We were in Oslo, Norway, my teenaged son and I, spending a few days before hopping a ship with Quark Expeditions to explore around the Arctic archipelago called Svalbard.
Our first day, we stopped at the National Gallery, not for the Van Goghs or Gaugins or Cezannes. We wanted to see the most famous local painting - Edvard Munch's The Scream. Pop culture artifact that it was, is and will probably always be, we have long been fascinated by this masterpiece, born of a tortured moment on what appeared to be a bridge.Read on...
At first I ignore the mail piled in the foyer, take my shoes off, and absorb the warmth of the terra cotta floor. Outside the living room window, a carpet of dandelions welcomes me like a light parade. How I love being in Tuscany in May—the lavender-laced air, hills stretching skyward, birds serenading amidst the hum of tractors.
While straining to keep my eyes open after yesterday’s overnight flight from L.A to Rome, I thumb through the mail. On top of the stack, thick with outdated TV guides and newsletters from the village church, is a bill from Siena Ambiente, the garbage company. I rip open the envelope, read the statement twice. What? 581 euros, just for bags? With my head throbbing, I phone Marco, my accountant, for an appointment.Read on...
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Deer Hunting in Paris is an unexpectedly funny exploration of a vanishing way of life in a complex, cosmopolitan world. Sneezing madly from hay fever, a Korean-American preacher’s daughter refuses to get married, travels the world, and ends up learning how to hunt from her boyfriend’s conservative family. As she navigates the perils of an unlikely romantic relationship from Paris, France, to Paris, Maine, Paula Young Lee skewers human foibles while she celebrates hunting, DIY food culture, and what it means to be a carnivore. She finds herself trying to keep from being “mistaken” for a deer and getting shot at the clothesline, while also avoiding becoming dinner for bears. Along the way, this former vegetarian finds lessons about life, love, and loss in a hacksaw and a haunch of venison. Read the Prologue or a sample chapter.
The Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 9 invites readers to ride shotgun alongside intrepid female nomads as they travel the globe to discover new places, people, and facets of themselves. The stories in this edition are as diverse as the destinations, the common thread being fresh, compelling storytelling that will make you laugh, weep, wish you were there, or be glad you weren’t. You'll tangle with snakes and alligators in Bangladesh, experience life under niqab in Egypt, find love in a tree house in Laos, and much more. Read Lavinia Spalding's Introduction or a sample chapter.
Ghost Dance in Berlin is an unlikely declaration of love by the American-born son of German-speaking Jewish refugees. From a temporary perch in a villa on Berlin’s biggest lake, Wortsman imagines the parallel celebratory haunting of two sets of ghosts, those of the exiled erstwhile owners, a Jewish banker and his family, and those of the Führer’s Minister of Finance and his entourage, who took over title, while in another villa across the lake another gaggle of ghosts is busy planning the Final Solution.
Where the Wall once stood dividing East and West the city remains bisected by invisible borderlines, across which the author hops with an eye for telling detail and an ear for memorable conversations with street musicians, winos, lawyers, bankers, politicians, a taxi driver, a hooker, and a Michelin star chef, with cameo appearances by Henry Kissinger and the shade of Marlene Dietrich. Read the Foreword or a sample chapter.
Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana is the 9th book in the best-selling Travelers' Tales humor series, which began with There's No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled and blossomed into a classic "underwear" women's humor series, including Sand in My Bra and The Thong Also Rises. This laugh-out-loud collection will resonate with experienced travelers and novices alike and includes hilarious misadventures with packing, border crossings, travel fashion, language faux pas, weird food encounters, and romantic overtures abroad. Read Marcy Gordon's Introduction or a sample chapter.
The Best Travel Writing, Volume 9 is the latest book in the annual Travelers’ Tales series launched in 2004 to celebrate the world’s best travel writing—from Nobel Prize winners to emerging new writers. These 27 stories cover the globe, from finding peace with a father's spirit in Mexico to getting caught off guard by a mad dog in Bhutan to crossing the Sahara in a convoy. The points of view and perspectives are global, and themes encompass high adventure, spiritual growth, romance, hilarity and misadventure, service to humanity, and encounters with exotic cuisine. Read the Introduction by Tim Cahill and a sample chapter, "The Offer that Refused Me" by Marcia DeSanctis.
“Makes me want to pack my bag and follow Van Allen’s alluring suggestions for traveling in Italy. Her knowledge reveals an intimacy with the country and a honed sense of adventure. Andiamo!”
—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
Imagine creating your Italian dream vacation with a fun-loving savvy traveler girlfriend whispering in your ear. Go along with writer Susan Van Allen on a femme-friendly ride up and down the boot, to explore this extraordinarily enchanting country where Venus (Vixen Goddess of Love and Beauty) and The Madonna (Nurturing Mother of Compassion) reign side-by-side. With humor, passion, and practical details, this uniquely anecdotal guidebook will enrich your Italian days. Read the Introduction, and also this superb review.
“A most diverting and picaresque tale, one that reads like a sentimental journey of a hundred years ago.”
—the late Norman Cousins
In the early 1960s, a young, self-taught musician set out to travel the world with no money, equipped only with his guitar, his voice, and his belief in the goodness of people. Along the way, blown by the winds of fortune, guided by instinct, he played for kings and paupers, soldiers and servants, artists and terrorists. His name is Moro Buddy Bohn, and his unlikely and powerful story will uplift you and inspire you to live the life you want.
His audiences have included Queen Elizabeth II of England, King Frederick IX of Denmark, Pablo Picasso, Rita Hayworth, Patty Duke, Lee Marvin, Howard Hughes, King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand, and he was the first musician to entertain U.S. troops in Vietnam. Read the Preface or a sample chapter.
“This book is very sick. Highly recommended.”
—J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Travelers' Tales/Solas House proudly presents its first work of fiction, Gary Buslik's wacky satire on power-mongers of all stripes. In this rollicking story, Iranian president Akhmed teams up with the leaders of Venezuela and Cuba and their American intelligence agents to smuggle radioactive matzo balls into Miami Beach. But intelligence being as slippery a concept to these nincompoops as chicken fat on linoleum, when each member of the gang decides to ladle out his own personal nuke soup, holy terror Akhmed is left steaming. Will his plan to destroy America float like a fly or sink like a lead dumpling?
Star-crossed lovers, conniving academics, and blustery social climbers collide with ravenous termites, international do-badders, and multi-level marketing in a plot as fast-paced and hilarious as a runaway mountain bus. Radioactivity has never been so much fun.
“Lavinia Spalding has given travelers a witty, profound, and accessible exploration of the hows and whys of keeping a journal. Novices and veterans alike will find inspiration and fresh ideas on every page, along with practical suggestions to bring out the best writer in anyone.” —Anthony Weller, author of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road
Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, inspires budding memoirists and jetsetting scribes alike. But Writing Away doesn’t stop there—author Lavinia Spalding spins the romantic tradition of keeping a travelogue into a modern, witty adventure in awareness, introducing the traditional handwritten journal as a profoundly valuable tool for self-discovery, artistic expression, and spiritual growth. Read the Introduction.
Cruise Confidential: a hit below the waterline
“Part Love Boat, part Mutiny on the Bounty, Cruise Confidential does for cruising what Animal House did for higher education.” —J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Cruise Confidential is a delightfully funny, wild, and romantic adventure that reveals what it's really like working on a cruise ship. Brian David Bruns worked for a year in the ships' restaurants and his account will astonish you as you are assaulted with circumstances ranging from the absurd to the bizarre. Did you know that waiters are required to steal cutlery and even food from each other for their own guests? Can you imagine what the crew thinks of the passengers? And sex, don't forget the sex. Read Chapter 1 here.