Read Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer by Rolf Potts Online

marco-polo-didn-t-go-there-stories-and-revelations-from-one-decade-as-a-postmodern-travel-writer

Marco Polo Didn’t Go There is a collection of rollicking travel tales from a young writer USA Today has called “Jack Kerouac for the Internet Age.” For the past ten years, Rolf Potts has taken his keen postmodern travel sensibility into the far fringes of five continents for such prestigious publications as National Geographic Traveler, Salon.com, and The New York Times MaMarco Polo Didn’t Go There is a collection of rollicking travel tales from a young writer USA Today has called “Jack Kerouac for the Internet Age.” For the past ten years, Rolf Potts has taken his keen postmodern travel sensibility into the far fringes of five continents for such prestigious publications as National Geographic Traveler, Salon.com, and The New York Times Magazine. This book documents his boldest, funniest, and most revealing journeys—from getting stranded without water in the Libyan desert, to crashing the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie in Thailand, to learning the secrets of Tantric sex in a dubious Indian ashram.Marco Polo Didn’t Go There is more than just an entertaining journey into fascinating corners of the world. The book is a unique window into travel writing, with each chapter containing a “commentary track”—endnotes that reveal the ragged edges behind the experience and creation of each tale. Offbeat and insightful, this book is an engrossing read for students of travel writing as well as armchair wanderers....

Title : Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 6605603
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 373 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer Reviews

  • Abby
    2019-05-30 04:51

    Potts could be a good travel writer if he stopped being so hyperconscious of the fact that he's a travel writer. This particular collection of essays and short works reads like a "how to: guide", rather than any meaningful, indepth look at a place or culture. Perhaps his longer works and books are different. Thus far, I am unimpressed.

  • Sonja Dewing
    2019-05-27 23:37

    This was a gift for Christmas, and it was just what I needed. These stories reminded me of my own travels and reminded me how we color our travels to fit our memories. Great stories of travel, happenstance, and interesting circumstances. If you've ever traveled, this will also encourage you to get back out there.

  • Tom Romig
    2019-06-03 03:44

    I read this for a book club, so here's the summary I put together in anticipation. (Items marked "o" are points that go under the bullets.) General• Dates of trips and dates of essays would have been a big helpo Assume chrono; writing and reporting get better as the stories go alongo Earlier pieces somewhat self-conscious, self focused, juvenile, sometimes triteo Starts getting better with piece on Australian outback (127)• Commentary at end of pieces is telling and entertaining:o Observations on travel; outtakes; “travel-writing textbook” (xix)• Jared Diamond quotation from Collapse: “the values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity” (142)o Aborigines have to “yesterday” or “tomorrow,” so share as they receive, which means no businesses (142) and lots of garbage (143)• Dislikes museums! (301)Observations on fact vs. interpretation• Epigraph: “the listener retains only the words he is expecting”—Italo Calvino (ix)o Interpretation is everything, both for teller and hearer• “Bound to be a bit of artifice” (23)• Quotes Alain de Botton: we reshape the experience so it’s coherent (27)• In his case, since he seems often to cross the line into fabrication, almost need to state: Inspired by a true story! (See below under “Conflict of interest”)Observations on travel• We’re all really tourists, not travelers (xv); the distinction between the two is meaningless (187)o Supposedly the distinction is escape vs. experience (8)o “There is no such thing as a seasoned traveler” (124)• Ecotourism: it’s a contradiction, since by visiting unspoiled places we spoil them (42-3)o Contradiction (277)• Tourism improves the standard of living but destroys authenticity (47)• An aboriginal man explains why he plays the didgeridoo for tourists, even though it’s not at all an instrument of his group: “When you run a business like mine, that’s the trick: balancing people’s expectations of aboriginal culture with the real thing.” (137)• How travel distorts (key passage): “I realize the insipidity in traveling to a far-flung clime merely to discover the same small pleasures that can be found at home….The formula has already been set: Attract enough travelers to a place, and before long that place will figure out how to cater to the fashions and tastes that travelers bring with them. If, as a visitor, you bemoan the presence of these comforts, you may as well bemoan the presence of yourself.” (223)Observations on travel writing• When you travel to write about it, that shapes your experience (24)• Finding “the proper balance between information and narrative” (55)• Story’s engine = what’s going to happen next (68)o “The engine creates the narrative tension that allows the storyteller to digress and give background information”• People the writer engages with become “mere informational or dramatic pawns within a given travel tale” (153)• “Itinerant writers can never claim true authority”—Pico Iyer (155)• Expectations for what a travel piece should be actually shape the story (179)• Travel writing is similar to fiction writing: uses the same techniques; orders and embellishes (186)Conflict of interest• “Press trips are a source of controversy within the travel-writing milieu, since they create an obvious conflict of interest between the writer’s presumed objectivity and the promotional interests of the company that financed the journey” (198)• But in the very next piece, on Grenada, he misrepresents his motivation for travel:o “The best answer I could give them was ‘sloth.’” (203)o But in the notes, he explains that he was there on assignment with a fully booked trip, not as a traveler looking for sloth: “the magazine had used the local tourist board to underwrite most of its travel costs.” (212)• And in a piece on going to Thailand to write a book (289), he is untruthful about where he stayed:o “A cheap, quiet studio at the edge of town” (289)o But in the notes: “In truth, my wooden-floored ‘studio’ was located in a Thai hotel, a tourist guesthouse” (298)• “As an ethical person, you want to reflect a degree of critical insight when writing about the experience, yet as a person who travels for a living your critical insight may be of limited use to the kind of people who actually plan to take these trips” (200)Cultural authenticity• “True aboriginal authenticity was never mine to discover…because authenticity anywhere is an internal dialogue within a culture as it synthesizes its past with the present, hoping to better navigate a changing world.” (152)o My feeling is that much of what many people now call “cultural appropriation” has long been the way cultures grow and adapt and become richer.

  • Paul
    2019-06-15 01:40

    Potts' travel tales entertain while questioning the whole enterprise of travel in the shrinking twenty-first century world. Each piece finishes with lengthy endnotes that pull back the curtain and give the reader access to the mechanics of writing, the context and "off cuts" of the piece, and the business of travel writing.

  • Jrobertus
    2019-06-25 03:40

    This is a collection of travel stories by an American travel writer I had not read until now. He has an engaging style and tells a good story about his off the track journeys, many of which do not go as "planned". The lead story tells of his efforts to sneak onto a Thai island where Leo DiCapprio was filming "The Beach" while another relates how he got drugged and robbed in Istanbul. Potts tries to see the locals off the tourist tracks, but this is not always rewarding, and leads to some interesting questions about travel versus tourism. He has a keen eye for human nature and a sense of humor that makes this a fun book. I intend to look for more of his stuff.

  • Carianne Carleo-Evangelist
    2019-05-30 00:27

    A light, fun read. I'd read some of Potts' stories in other collections as well as his own books and online, but I hadn't read the majority of these. I like how he chose to include the end notes to make readers aware of other sub plots, challenges, etc. I loved Mr. Beenny, and his story of navigating Central Laos. I found myself looking up the tour company that he worked with - and pleasantly surprised that accommodation is still at the Headman's.Great, light read. Really awakened travel itch again.

  • Ian Forsyth
    2019-05-30 01:35

    He put a lot into this work, a lot of travel, a lot of thought. It reads very smoothly and for anyone who travels and/or writes about it, its inspiring."ecotourism is a response to information age yearning for uniqueness, isolation, and authenticity""In truth, i dont have any formal "credentials" to brandish; usually I just offer a business card, or mention my author website.""Oh neccesity! To do waht you are supposed to do, to be always, according to the circumstances and despite the aversion of the moment, what a young man, or a tourist, or an artist is supposed to be" quoting Flaubert in his travels to Cairo"For some reason, major media outlets see fit ot ridicule backpackers at regular intervals in the news cycle. Around the smae time my Sultan tale was published in Salon, one could find articels in Time and the new York Times bemoanign how watereddown independent travle had become. Teh template for these articles was quite predictable, foregin desk correspondent visits backpacker gehetto in Tahiland or india or guatemala and observsers information age ironeis and or party scen reporter then evokes supposed independt travel ideals of the 60s and notes how todays backpackers dont live up to said ideals repoerted procedds to quote Lonely planet found Tony Wheeler, cite tourism staicsk,summarize percieved backpacker hypocriseis and grandly declare indepnedtn travel to irreleavant or socnumerist, or stone cold dead.This kind of story is the traevel eauivlante of those perneail op edi peices that use the lastes deomgraphic survey to condlue that young pepole are stupid or maorally lacking or edestinted to dteryo civilization. And just as kids these days op eds are metna tot convine older gernetration of their own virtue death of ttraavle articles essentaily serve to resasrue working stiffs that they arent missing anything by staying at home.;Indepndent travlers distingusish tehmselves y btheri willinghness to travle solo, to go slowyl, to embrace the unexpected and break out form the comrort economy that isolates more well heeled vatcionaers and exptas. Sure backpackers are themselves a masnifestation of mass tourism, and they have their ow self satised cliches, but they are generally going through amore life affecting preocess than one would fin don a stander travel holdiay.All of which is to day that backpacker culture is far more diverse tand engaged than its layabout steroytype would imply.These american magazines donet evne tknow what eavdie3nt is, he said, they want tyou to werite about camping toays and sports vactionas. they want tyo to make poeple think adventure is smoething that costs 8000 dolalars and lasts as long as a Chrismtams holikday They want you to make rich epople feel good for geinb rich.I began to emoal my dietor pointed qutrestion s about how mone should feine the extrems of human experience, how was kayahing a remote c hines rive i asked more notable tahn survinbin on its hosres for a lifetimeDid nayone else think it was telling that bored British aristocrats not the epoles of the himalyas were the ones who first deemed it important to climb Mount Everestto a place where "avetntuer tralve was not a way o fgettingh b y in life but a whimislca self indeuced actrstacion , a ways of tesing our limits so that we acan more kenly fell our comofts.the kayak guides excude a perky enthousiasm that at times felt phohny and condescdningunfortnaulta donny turned out to be the most indiesice secatterbrained world weary perosn imve met in anym profestional context.how does one see the thing beter when others are absentive foudn that travler conversations invarily steter ther wway toward persumed dangers, guntoting slavadorans on teh beach at tnight, street grangs near the cities, leftover land mines in teh jungles, this talk is a sta ndard straveler sarfty ritualand an otherwise languaorus afternoon of surfign nad beer drinking acn areadily be apassed off asn eday adventure in el salvador.if as a vistor you bemona the prescend of these comforts, you may as well beoman the prescene of youtself.at times our adventure here carries a postmodern kind of pathos. becuase we havent spooted any of the amilas we hoped to see here, the jngle seems lisghtly worng somehow.a bsci contraciction of ecotourism, to truly immerse youself in nature you need time and poeateience, yet short term outrists raerly have much time to posrare, the proudout of ecotoursim afdter iall is experience, yet a meangiful gexpoerce of natue is not somethinging that can be sdeivloer in pqucik standerisd packages.were you writing a book about andoraa you might begin your story form a personal of meotnal premist, you might say for expmapoel that you lover has just left you and you resvoe.d to walk acors andora in an effort to heal your pain. or you might saty that your home was lacking in good teaste of wautehnicityciy and you walked across andoraa to diescover and older and more gneuineu way of life.i thought back to burma and the pride id felt in stryaing offf the beathen path hter, somehow the tirall of that juourned ycotnained a hitnt of naricssim, nad eogoistic desire to see ymyself vidid and unqigue in teh frelctino fo a land so unlkeik my own.

  • Noah
    2019-06-09 01:30

    Engaging and well written stories revolving around the unpolished and textured underbelly of travelling and travel writing.

  • Matthew
    2019-06-19 23:55

    I got this book as an ebook. I saw some chumps, sitting there in a cafe, attempting to read books in actual *book* form and I scoffed to my slightly grubby self. I'd been hunting in the outback for days for this book, cobbling together the contents from purloined internet signals while I was driving the Outback Google Maps Street View car. Chapter twelve got stuck in my dreadlocks, which had formed from all the dust and filth accumulated whilst driving around, trying to hold the street view camera and WiFi signal stealer in place.I was being *authentic*, man. If I was going to read a book I was going to make sure I was a *reader*, not just a letter recognizer, like most of the chumps out there. But once I had my ebook I was just, like, sitting in a car, driving around the outback, careening around the odd kangaroo, sacred stone, drop bear. I was unsatisfied. I felt like a ritzy reading magazine version of a reader. Well that's not what I'm all about.So I took the ebook on a plane. Not just on a plane, like on the *inside*, like a lot of chumps, but I taped the iPad with the ebook on it to the *outside* of the plane. Picked it off again in Egypt, where I struck out for the desert. Four days in I sat down with my iPad to read the book. But I'd been playing Angry Turtles while I was walking to get well and truly lost, so my battery had run dead. So I walked back to civilization, recharged my batteries. Then I headed back out into the wilderness. This time I played less Angry Turtles and more ASCII Art Ninjas, which is way easier on the battery.I wound up in the White Desert, and, after a bit of a struggle, got myself perched on top of one of the white rock pillars, where I could idly throw stones at passing camel caravans and read my book, like a real reader. So I did. But then, after getting through chapter one, then chapter two I began to think I was reading it all wrong. I mean, *any*one can read a book from start to finish. But to really *read* something I would have to strike out into the woolier passages without a guide, without any idea where I really was. I started just reading every other letter on a few pages, then jumped to a random page, read the third and seventieth letter on the page. But I wanted more. So I began reading with my eyes closed for an even more authentic experience. I achieved such an amazing reading of this book that I probably levitated. I couldn't tell because I had my eyes shut, but I'm pretty sure I had. Oh, I also met a Danish girl and a Latvian skinny tall guy who plays the guitar and sings opera for a lark floating on nearby stone pillars, which was cool. Ha HA! Andorrrrrrra!The endnotes in the ebook version were interesting, in that you expected just yet more navel-gazing, and so weren't disappointed or looking for much more. And a few of the notes provided some small insight into a travel writer's process and the business. But the main articles, all stuck in one concentrated, Rolf-y blob, were a bit too much to stomach. I suppose it's the danger of travel writing -- you tend to travel with yourself, and some part of you becomes the story, because you're telling about your travels in your voice. I don't know if I just didn't get on with Rolf or what, I didn't enjoy his projects, his desperate need to be more than tourist. I've enjoyed plenty of travelogues, from Bill Bryson to Douglas Adams to Laurence Sterne. Just not this one.

  • Liz D
    2019-06-16 01:53

    I haven't read this yet, but we went to a reading of his last night. There seems to be some unexamined male privilege and/or sexism going on here, but I very much appreciated Potts's awareness (present in his talk, at least) of his status as a white westerner traveling in countries whose customs, traditions, and ideas differ greatly from what he and other white westerners may be used to.I also appreciated his explanation of the word "postmodern" in the title: it's a reflection of the fact that even as travelers fix their gazes on the "other," such as the monks on the cover, expecting to learn something, to be enlightened or inspired, those "others" have their own concerns and cultures and gazes. It's a far cry from, say, travel writing and anthropology from the 19th century, wherein inhabitants of other cultures are, at best, beings to be examined and learned from as if they were another (and generally lesser) species, rather than fellow human beings, and at worst savages in need of the civilizing influences of the west (or, worse, extermination).This collection of essays has a set of endnotes that Potts likened to movies' commentary tracks, and I'm curious to see how these pieces (one or two of which were featured in the Best American Travel Writing series) developed. Obviously I'll have a better perspective once I've actually read the book, but it seems like this collection will be instructive in terms of craft, regardless of whether or not it's actually any good.

  • Linda
    2019-06-23 00:49

    While Rolf Potts, one of the finest chroniclers of our time, tells us to be travelers not tourists his stories are testimonies to the discomfort—if not downright terror—this can bring. These journeys take us into the heart of the backpacking culture fit for someone about 25. I enjoyed hitch hiking with him in Lithuania making friends with a band of reckless students, to a bone chilling night in a Himalayan village offset with an amusing encounter with some “blue movie” junkies. Rolf’s self-deprecating humor, expertly crafted, well-informed narrative keep these encounters alive. He made me wish I had kept notes on my free-fall through Europe when my travels were filled with serendipitous and mystical happenings. Rather than live in regret, I will be grateful to have endnotes at the end of each story illuminating travel writing tricks that make Rolf’s stories a treat. If you are a writer aspiring to spin gold from the straw of your own experiences, I suggest reading the tutorial at the end of the book before enjoying this award-winning collection highlighting the last ten years of Rolf’s incredible life. Adventure travel writer-Linda Ballou-Author of Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii-Her Epic Journey www.LindaBallouAuthor.com

  • John Orman
    2019-05-29 04:37

    A travel author for National Geographic Traveler and the New York Times Magazine, Potts writes about his wildest adventures while seeking out stories--and he often *becomes* the story!A unique part of the book are the "commentary tracks" at the end of each tale, detailing the creation of each tale.In "Going Native in the Australian Outback," the author describes his quest for a "meaningful experience of Australian aboriginal culture." It was interesting to read his description of the natives' sign at the base of Uluru (Ayers Rock), which requests that tourists not climb the sacred rock. Despite that admonition, there are hundreds of tourists climbing the rock, with the aid of a chain installed by the Park Service. I well remember climbing to the top of that huge monolith myself in 1986, but I don't remember that particular warning. What a view of the Australian desert from the top of Uluru.The major downside of the book from my perspective is that the Outback is the only locale Potts visits that I have been to personally. So I mainly approached the book as an armchair adventurer to lands I have never visited and probably never will. So it was still a worthwhile read.

  • Lisa Findley
    2019-06-21 06:36

    These essays range over several years of writing for various magazines, so there's some repetition of ideas (trying not to be a tourist, deciding that we're all tourists even when we try to be travelers, etc.). But taken on their own, the essays are lively, often thoughtful tales of travel in various corners of the world. I like the endnotes that draw back the curtain to see behind the scenes of a polished and published travel piece, and I'd say I was 50/50 disappointed/relieved to see just how much he embellishes--that provides some guideline on my own travel writing. I like Rolf Potts' writing in general as solid travel reporting. He's too eager to stubbornly make a situation conform to how he imagined it in his head, and then he writes about it and tries to act like he was laidback the whole time, which seems dishonest, so I don't take his approach to travel as a model. His writing is pleasant but not beautiful, so his writing isn't an inspiration. But he has some fun tales to tell and he tells them well, and that works for me.

  • Joe
    2019-06-18 02:34

    I really enjoyed Rolf's first book Vagabonding, which inspired me to travel for a longer amount of time, while also re-evaluate what I'm pursuing and ultimately attempting to acquire. So, I was really interested when I found out he had written another book. Marco Polo Didn't Go There is different in that it's a collection of his more notable adventures that he's written for travel magazine over the past 10 years. Whereas Vagabonding encourages one to go, Marco Polo presents the crazy stories and happenings that inspire and fill you with hope that you'll have the same types of experiences.I also enjoyed his endnotes after each chapter which help to fill in the blanks and also to describe the stories that he's embellished or altered to make it more enjoyable to read. I think any aspiring travel writer will enjoy reading this book for his candid take on the travel writing industry and how he approaches stories from time to time. It's a fun read.

  • Zora O'Neill
    2019-06-19 00:37

    To be honest, I was expecting not to like this book much. I have a low tolerance for bravado in travel writing, and young guys' writing often displays a lot of this.The first essay, about trying to pull of some random anti-stunt involving crashing the set of "The Beach" in Thailand, veered dangerously toward that territory. But from there on out, things got a lot better. Potts is thoughtful, funny and creative--I liked the second-person essay set in India, for instance.And the "postmodern commentary" is actually quite illuminating. In the notes following each story, Potts explains the various choices he made in telling each story--what details he left out, how he tinkered with chronology, etc. It makes me look at other travel writing differently as a result.

  • Mark
    2019-06-18 04:30

    As an avid reader of travel narrative, I am a bit surprised that I had never heard of this author before stumbling across this book. I will make a point of seeking him out now. The entries in this book are both thought provoking and hilarious. Potts talks a lot about what it means to be tourist and the struggle tourists have when trying to have an "authentic" experience while travelling. Rarely do travel writers raise the issues in their books and I found this book richer for having discussed. Potts also spends time discussing how he edits and embellishes each entry in the book, freely admitting that all nonfiction is to some extent the author's creation, not just a transcript of his experience. I found this approach made reading the entries a richer experience.

  • Christy
    2019-05-28 23:37

    While in Turkey I had the chance to spend some time with a travel writer. Having never thought seriously about the genre, though of course having enjoyed it, we talked quite a bit and he recommended I read some Rolf Potts. I liked this book because it was full of short travel stories that were never boring. But what I liked even more was that at the end of each story, he went through and explained his though process, what really happened and didn't happen, why he left out certain details or embellished others. So in the end, the book was rather instructive. I can't say this was a gripping page-turner, but it was decent, and I'll end up reading the other Potts book recommended by my friend entitled Vagabonding.

  • Tonia
    2019-06-04 05:29

    Within the context of being a post-modern traveller and writer, Potts takes the reader through chapters of stories, each dedicated to an individual experience he has had after having vagabonded about the globe for a decade. This book provides an interesting and didactic structure through which Potts uses current academic research to affirm his narrative choices, as he shares his experiences about travel. Most of this writing has been published elsewhere and this book is a collection of assorted stories that offers Potts to teach the reader about travel writing within the context of vagabonding, academic research, and individualized learning through experience. A great read and one that is worth looking at again if you are a travel writer.

  • Mitch
    2019-06-19 01:45

    I give this travel book high marks because of the author's approach.The book is a collection of short pieces he wrote for various travel publications over the years, with notes following that gave background material on each one.Due to those notes, the reader gets a realistic view of how nonfiction is often altered to tell a better story. The author is a writer; he has an audience to capture and hold. He also has only so much experience to draw from and a deadline to meet. Therefore, much of what he writes has been altered in undetectable ways. Most often he omits certain details of his experience to maintain the story's pace and keep the theme clear of distractions.I both enjoyed his writing and valued his revelations about the process behind his work.

  • Gina
    2019-06-03 07:34

    I hate picking a number of stars. Maybe this is a 4 star book. It's good. I like the chapter on the Egyptian pyramids. The author spends most of his time in Cairo avoiding the pyramids out of fear that they won't live up to the hype, that he'll be disappointed. What happens when he finally goes is just mind-boggling. This is in some ways about the tension between wanting to see the world, and not wanting to be a "tourist." Also the tension between wanting to discover the world, and knowing that so much information is accessible via internet and so forth. So it's the quest for a truly authentic journey.

  • Shannan
    2019-06-26 04:42

    An enjoyable collection of traveling stories from around the world. The endnotes talking about the art of travel writing were interesting and added another dimension to the overall experience. I was interested in his ongoing struggle to find an "authentic" experience in the midst of his travels and how difficult that is to do in the modern age when you can gather so much information about a place before you get there. Even when he tried to fly blind and just wing it, he still sometimes had the feeling that the adventure wasn't living up to his expectations of what it should feel like. I have had that same feeling when traveling, so I could relate.

  • Erin Bembe
    2019-06-01 02:33

    I really enjoy Rolf Potts. His writing is just so smart and interesting; he really is a master travel writer. I loved how he added endnotes to the end of each (previously published in some form or another) story to provide the reader with background and interesting facts, as well as to show how he shaped the story the way he did to fit the purpose of the assignment. It was an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of a travel writer. However he does sort of have that it's-not-really-travel-unless-you-get-off-the-beaten-path-and-really-experience-local-culture aspect to him that makes me feel a little inferior for my run of the mill travel experiences thus far.

  • Jeff Chappell
    2019-06-20 06:50

    An excellent collection of travel writing. Potts may not be the best author in the world when it comes to actual writing, but he manages to tread little known territory both literally and figuratively. He managed to get beyond the "logue" part of travelogue and seemingly gleen some keen insight into a culture, as well as why we travel, more often than not -- we being those of us that prefer to actually set beyond the hotel and shopping complex; those of us that prefer local street stall food (barbecued squid on a stick -- scrumptious!) as opposed to McDonalds.

  • Shyam Parekh
    2019-06-03 04:50

    Rolf Potts is a good writer, but it is hard to like somebody so self-centered and pompous that he is constantly willing to be disruptive to make a story interesting. He's like a more worldly, well-traveled Tom Green. Not quite the shock humor on MTV, though he makes a scene and then writes about all those poor suckers around him. He admits to making up elements of stories to make then more interesting. Maybe he should be commended for admitting that fact. Anyway, it's hard to like the book when the narrator (author) seems like a total jerk.

  • Priscilla
    2019-06-22 05:32

    Marco Polo Didn’t Go There attempts to be what Sex Lives of Cannibals is – a humorous, self-deprecating series of travel essays with smart insight and a traveler’s sense of awareness. It is not. Potts comes off as an arrogant, condescending know-it-all and I couldn’t have cared less about any one of the places he went and he goes into far too much detail in almost all of them. Really surprised that this guy is such a published travel writer. Not my thing for sure. Whole book club didn’t like it so I was not alone.

  • Forty Something
    2019-06-06 05:48

    I enormously enjoyed the travel stories. Never a dull moment, as the author knows how to spin a good story. Second benefit: The vivid descriptions of places that made me feel like I've been there, without the hassle or inherent risk associated with a trip in the Libyan desert or the Himalayan outback. When I think back on certain stories, I have to remind myself that I read them, not *seen* them in some documentary. Third benefit: The behind-the-scenes notes, which were engrossing and very telling about the travel writing world.

  • Evie
    2019-05-27 00:49

    Potts is a talented travel writer, so while I wanted to give this a three star as an overall book, I just couldn't do it. His stories bring up some great observations about tourists vs. travelers, the nature of backpacking, and "authentic" travel experiences. I think I would have enjoyed these articles more had I read them as individual stories when they were originally published in Salon or World Hum. As a book, the stories lack the same charm. The "commentary track" is a great addition, though!

  • Clare
    2019-06-24 01:44

    As a traveler, writer, and admirer of Rolf Potts, I really enjoyed this book. If you're not at least one of those things, you might not like it quite as much. Although if you're not already an admirer of Rolf Potts, I'd be willing to bet you will be by the end of this book--his stories are engaging, humorous, and thought-provoking. He's definitely one of my favorite travel writers--by around the middle of the book, I was trying to figure out how I could copy his lifestyle.

  • Catherine
    2019-06-21 00:45

    This book is full of great travel stories, and the "commentary track' is very helpful. I'm travling now, and this book has inspired me to take a lot better notes and think about my writing differently. I like the mix of stories - funny, scary, and reflective, and I like the points he brings up about tourists versus travelers, and his commentary on backpacker culture. A great vacation read.

  • Wendy
    2019-05-31 07:40

    This is a book of short stories by travel author Rolf Potts. I saw him speak in Seattle during his book tour and got a mini-crush on him (he's a cutie). hee hee. He's so incredibly adventurous during his travels, it makes his stories fun to read, but not necessarily relatable. For example, I won't be doing a multi-day trek in the Laotian wilderness any time soon.