KINGDOMS IN THE AIR by Bob Shacochis (Eastern Caribbean)

 

From the Internet:

Kingdoms in the Air: Dispatches from the Far Away kingdoms-airbrings together the very best of Bob Shacochis’s culture and travel essays in one live-wire collection that spans his global adventures and his life passions; from surfing, to his obsession with the South American dorado, to the time he went bushwhacking in Mozambique. In the titular essay “Kingdoms,” the longest work in the collection, Shacochis ventures to Nepal with his friend, the photographer Thomas Laird, who was the first foreigner to live in Nepal’s kingdom of Mustang as the forbidden Shangri-la prepared to open its borders to trekkers and trade. When the two men return a decade after Laird first lived there, Shacochis observes in brilliantly evocative prose both the current cultural and political landscape of the country, and the changes with which his friend has to reconcile.

Replete with Shacochis’s signature swagger, humor, and crystalline wisdom, Kingdoms in the Air is a majestic and essential collection from one of our most important writers.

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Here is a new ***Starred Booklist review of Kingdoms In The Air:
In the afterword, National Book Award – winner Shacochis (The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, 2013) urges travelers to test comfort zones, as if that impulse was avoidable while reading this exuberant travel and cultural anthology. Destination becomes irrelevant as Shacochis brings each setting to life with a perceptive eye, an edgy devotion to fresh language, and mastery at capturing group interaction. He often wrestles with a dilemma faced by many living in poor, touristy regions — how to balance development while preserving character. A hidden Himalayan kingdom allows some visitors, then becomes overrun. A sleepy Caribbean island sprouts resorts and casinos. Russian thugs control entire rivers, poaching caviar and leaving piles of dead salmon. Mexican villagers earn more money and watch more TV yet long for the simpler lives they led before a resort usurped their beaches. Cuba embraces glitzy tourism to finance the communist revolution.
Conservation-minded readers may balk when Shacochis plows through natural habitats on a tank-like ATV, an Amazonian power boat, or low-flying helicopters. But his unflinching treatment of many Third World predicaments will engage every reader. Shacochis lauds people with little money who claw their way to adventure, and his diverse, vibrant essays, brimming with initiative, may inspire some to seek the unique rewards of unstructured travel. — Dane Carr
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Best known for his sweeping international and political fiction narratives, Bob Shacochis (St. Vincent 1975–76) began his writing career as a pioneering journalist and contributing editor for Outside magazine and Harper’s.

Bob ShacochisHis first collection of stories, Easy in the Islands, won the National Book Award for First Fiction, and his second collection, The Next New World, was awarded the Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also the author of the novel Swimming in the Volcano, a finalist for the National Book Award, The Immaculate Invasion, a work of literary reportage that was a finalist for The New Yorker Book Award for Best Nonfiction of the Year; and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, which won the Dayton Peace Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Shacochis is a contributing editor at Outside, a former columnist for Gentleman’s Quarterly, and has served as a contributing editor for Harper’s and GQ. His op-eds on the US military, Haiti, and Florida politics have appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

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Kingdoms in the Air: Dispatches from the Far Away
(travel essays)
Bob  Shacochis (St. Vincent 1975–76)
Grove Press
June 2016
480 pages
$26.00 (hardcover), $9.99 (Kindle)

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