Monday, October 23, 2006
Travel Writer Eric Newby Is Dead
The British absolutely love travel writing and they do it better than anyone. I don't mean travel guides like Lonely Planet. I mean nonfiction memoirs that detail a person's experience in some exotic locale. Author Eric Newby just died and he was one of the most acclaimed travel writers of all -- for the British, that's saying something. I tried to find an excuse to interview him for years, but now it's too late. Newby escaped from a prisoner of war camp during World War II, met his wife in Italy while doing so and never stopped having grand adventures. A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush is one of his classics -- you'll especially like it if you've seen the terrific adventure film "The Man Who Would Be King" starring Michael Caine and Sean Connery. The book is set in the same isolated territory they venture to. And it has a heck of a kicker typical of Newby -- humorous, deflating, and very human. His The Last Grain Race is another gem, this one about sailing on one of the last commercial runs of a sailing ship -- Newby was 18 at the time, which means he didn't need the war to get him going. Those are two of my favorites but anything with his name on it is a safe bet.