Read What Am I Doing Here? by Bruce Chatwin Online


In this collection of profiles, essays and travel stories, Chatwin takes us to Benin, where he is arrested as a mercenary during a coup; to Boston to meet an LSD guru who believes he is Christ; to India with Indira Ghandi when she attempted a political comeback in 1978; and to Nepal where he reminds us that 'Man's real home is not a house, but the Road, and that life itselIn this collection of profiles, essays and travel stories, Chatwin takes us to Benin, where he is arrested as a mercenary during a coup; to Boston to meet an LSD guru who believes he is Christ; to India with Indira Ghandi when she attempted a political comeback in 1978; and to Nepal where he reminds us that 'Man's real home is not a house, but the Road, and that life itself is a journey to be walked on foot'...

Title : What Am I Doing Here?
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780099769811
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 180 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

What Am I Doing Here? Reviews

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-05-25 08:43

    From memory, and it was a long time ago that I read this, it is a very mixed bag with no central theme. There are some travel/journalism pieces but also an essay on Ernst Juenger's diaries. That alone is the only piece that really sticks in my memory, reading that led me on to read On Marble Cliffs. Also I am long since not the Chatwin fan I once was.

  • James
    2019-06-08 08:56

    The author of one of my favorite short novels, Bruce Chatwin here demonstrates his story-telling ability amidst the realities of travel and the vast world of his extended friendships and acquaintances. As an example the following is from “Mrs. Mandelstam,” Chatwin’s account of his visit with the widow of the Russian poet, Osip Mandelstam, collected in What Am I Doing Here?, the last book he published before he died: "White metal fastenings glittered among the brown stumps of her teeth. A cigarette stuck to her lower lip. Her nose was a weapon. You knew for certain she was one of the most powerful women in the world, and knew she knew it…. She waved me to a chair and, as she waved, one of her breasts tumbled out of her nightie. "Tell me," she shoved it back, "are there any grand poets left in your country?"The joy of reading his prose is surpassed only by the delight in knowing that opening the book to any page you will be engrossed by the words upon the page. A reader's delight that persuades you with its charm that you should return to one of his other books as soon as possible.

  • Yazmina-Michele de Gaye
    2019-06-05 10:49

    i have always liked Bruce Chatwin, there is a particular hard cover coffee table style book of his photographs, which appeals to me as i too am an avid traveller and photographer. However i had intended to make a note of all the famous names mentioned in this series of wonderful adventures, name-dropping par excellence! The other point is that i feel rather chuffed by the fact that i knew all those so-called celebs he mentioned...not personally of course, but in reference to each, i didn't feel out of loop, as it were. The episode with Klaus Kinski is entertaining as i knew that much about him, for instance research 'Fitzcaraldo', another werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski collaboration.i do luv the writing style and found this easy to pick up and put down as they are short stories, travelogue style.

  • Pratishtha Chaurasia
    2019-05-22 11:02

    This is the third book by Chatwin I have read this year. If you are someone who just goes through the pages, not devouring himself in the life the author is telling you about, then I do not believe this book is for you.This book has left me astonished if Chatwin really lived this amazing life. Just like parents tell their kids stories, the book tells us about people and their lives. It is amazing how he can write about anything, even the smallest of things in a manner which makes you smile to yourself. I generally do not rate any book 5 stars until it teaches me a thing or two, but I just couldn't stop myself from doing it. I can say that not all articles are equally impressive, or that it may have been better if they would have been connected to one another, but all of these are connected to one life - The author's. Just make sure you are all heart when you read it. Don't think of the work which is pending. Do not think of the things that you didn't do. Just read it, and read it slowly.

  • Jacob Overmark
    2019-06-02 08:09

    The last essays, travel stories and memories from the hand of Bruce Chatwin.If you want to get to know one of the most influential travel writers of the 20th century, this is a fine introduction, you definitely will be hungry for more Bruce Chatwin.Is it relevant today? Certainly. The description of the post-colonial relationship between France and Algier in "The Very Sad Story of Salah Bougrine" is as relevant as ever.

  • Tittirossa
    2019-06-08 10:47

    amore a prima vista. colpo di fulmine. passionaccia senza filtri (per dire, venerdì scorso ho comperato Venerdì di Repubblica perchè c'era un memoir della sua editor, di cui ho pure letto le memorie bruciane, pessimamente scritte, consapevole che sarebbe stato una cavolata-acchiappa-lettori-iper-bruciani, come poi si è rivelata)

  • Madhuri
    2019-06-05 03:57

    A splendid collection of stories/essays/thoughts, collected over years of extensive travel that Chatwin has done. In this small book, there are so many different people to meet, so many different cultures to get a whiff of, and so many circumstances to puzzle over. Chatwin is caught in the middle of coup in an African nation, haunted by Yetis in high Himalyan peaks, and has a love-hate relationship with Indira Gandhi during her campaign to return to power after the emergency. And all of it is neatly enveloped by his acute observation and curiosity. He narrates histories and cultures through his encounters with people - that is his unique and extraordinary proposition.

  • Jeffrey Lamoureux
    2019-05-20 02:52

    Chatwin is impossibly cultured, and it shows. His writing is fantastic and the encounters he describes always entertaining and informative. This is hardly an autobiography in any formal sense; one comes away with little detail of his life, and far too little of his thoughts. I almost wish that he would have elaborated more: on himself, his attitudes, opinions, and world views. Occasionally it's hard to be taken in by his more historical essays, which is why I don't give this book a higher rating.

  • Andrew
    2019-06-06 09:06

    Bruce Chatwin, in turns out, knows how to talk about damn near anything. Whether he's discussing art, describing his travels in West Africa, or having a chat with aging Russian poets, he's a hell of a guide in these short, witty essays, which feature luminaries ranging from Indira Gandhi to Klaus Kinski. I should say that it's nowhere near as brilliant as In Patagonia (a serious candidate for the greatest travelogue of the last century) or Utz (a peculiar, chiseled little novel seemingly designed for chilly fuckers such as myself), but it's perfect for the subway.

  • ashok
    2019-05-24 08:56

    Typically entertaining pseudo-fiction collection of travelogues, anecdotes and fables. The highlight has to be the chapter about Indira Gandhi's post-emergency comeback election campaign. While some of it may be cute invention - the despotic nature of Indira Gandhi in many amusing para-phrases.

  • Linda
    2019-06-02 07:44

    The chapter on Werner Herzog directing his film "Cobra Verde", based on Chatwin's "The Viceroy of Ouidah", in Ghana is so amazing and funny that it cured my cold. Having read "the Viceroy" I then had to watch "Cobra Verde". Of those three works, I'd say Chatwin's sketch on Herzog is the best.

  • Amy
    2019-05-21 06:56

    What a book. What a writer. Such an eye for detail, such a brilliant man but he's not in your face about it, except when he can perfectly date an ancient artifact from Iran. Amazing journalist.

  • Fiona Stocker
    2019-06-08 07:46

    I read this book in the eighties or nineties when I was going through my 'Chatwin phase'. It's not my favourite of his. It's somewhat choppy and disjointed, from memory. But still a master of observation at work. It's on the 'must re-read' list. If you've never read Chatwin before, don't start with this. If you like fiction, go straight to On the Black Hill, and if you enjoy literary fiction, Utz. He remains one of the writers who has influenced me most, for his conviction in living a life of his own devising. Wish I'd had half his style and nerve.

  • James M.
    2019-05-23 09:06

    This is a reread, since the book came out in the mid-eighties. Splendid, fascinating mind. I've started rereading all his books, both fiction and non-fiction (fantastic travel books--half way through "In Patagonia" right now). Such a pleasure to have a conversation, for that is what it feels like, with this intriguing man, who seems to know everyone and go everywhere, from the heights of the Himalayas to the far reaches at the bottom of the world . . .

  • Barbara von der Osten
    2019-06-15 08:02

    Chatwin’s personal selection of his own stories, profiles, and travelogues make up this book. One reviewer calls it “a kaleidoscope that offers the many selves that Chatwin created.” It does contain a varied, and at times eclectic collection of ideas and thoughts. Yet I found it to be a brilliant collection of his writings, and might very well be a good place to start for those who have never read anything by him.

  • Sourojit Das
    2019-05-20 05:04

    Rimbaud asked in Ethiopia, "What am I doing here?" This awesome collection of short stories, anecdotes, and bits of odd lore combine together for a truly magical effect. the tete-a tete's with the likes of Malraux et al are not to be missed.

  • Oh Captain
    2019-05-30 08:57

    Hugely entertaining collection of anecdotes, articles and adventures, taking the reader everywhere from the Volga to the Himalayas, by way of various eccentrics, artists and art dealers, warlords, Werner Herzog and the Yeti.

  • Branka Njegic
    2019-05-20 03:44

    It's a lovely book of essays and personal journeys. While reading it, you can learn about very interesting people from all walks of life.Pleasant surprise.

  • gufo_bufo
    2019-06-12 11:00

    Not my cup of tea.

  • Pablo Renzi
    2019-06-02 03:42

    il capitolo su Herzog è meraviglioso, ma credo che lo sarebbe anche se l'avesse scritto un altro. tutto diventa più bello quando c'è di mezzo Werner Herzog e quel malato di genio di Kinsky.

  • Ian
    2019-06-14 05:53

    I have read and hugely enjoyed some of Mr Chatwin's oeuvre (On the Black Hill and Songlines in particular) and was keen to fill in the gaps. However, this was something of a curate's egg of a book. It is a collection of essays and interviews, published posthumously and so it's no surprise that I enjoyed some parts much more than others.Travel writing is how Mr Chatwin made his name and it's the travel sections of this that are by far the most enjoyable - the section on Afghanistan is heartbreaking, given that it was written in the early 1970's and is now a window into a world lost forever. And the section on looking for the Yeti in Tibet may be heading the same way.The book also includes a number of interviews with several important but lesser known figures from the early 20th Century - interviews conducted near the ends of their lives in the early 1970s. I hadn't heard of many but they were all interesting. Wikipedia was a constant companion when reading these chapters, but of course Mr Chatwin's interviews are more about getting to know what the person was actually like, rather than just a bald set of facts and dates.One for Chatwin completists but with recommended sections, so don't be afraid of skipping the dull bits.

  • Avik
    2019-06-02 03:43

    An un-remarkable book from a gifted wordsmith. I am quite a fan of Chatwin's brand of travel writing and admire his skills at observing culture and human character, and would prefer to read him any day as compared to, say, Theroux or Thubron or Bryson, but this book is not my cup of tea. First of all, there is a painful lack of coherence - Chatwin hops, skips and jumps from one theme to another in an utterly haphazard fashion and often the reader is left wondering what this guy is up to?! While, I admit, this could seem fun to people with a different kind of fascination towards Chatwin's wit, but it would be unjust on my part not to warn the potential reader (why else would you care to read my damn review??) to pick up this book at his/her own risk.On second thoughts, since I picked up a copy of this work from the nice Brit guy who sells old books just outside the Mensa of the Heidelberg University for just 1 euro, I did not lose much and, on the contrary, I did gain some more insight on Bruce Chatwin the writer.

  • Amerynth
    2019-05-26 08:00

    I really enjoy Bruce Chatwin's writing style (though was a bit taken aback when I read his assessment that he writes like Hemingway or D.H. Lawrence....) so "What am I doing here?" has that going for it, at least.The book really pales in comparison to Chatwin's others, however. It's filled with vignettes and a few short stories about people that Chatwin has met, traveled with (or liked to imagine he knew.) Some were really fascinating... others were really tedious.I'd really only recommend this book to Chatwin completists. If you're new to his work, you are much better off with "In Patagonia" or "Songlines for non-fiction or "On the Black Hill" for non-fiction, as all are really wonderful.

  • NoBeatenPath
    2019-06-05 04:43

    This is my first Chatwin book, and many people have said that is one of Chatwin's lesser efforts. If so I can't wait to read more of his works. He is an exceptionally good writer, able to capture in one or two sentences complete portraits of characters or places. He manages to combine the mundane with the thrilling, the everyday detail that makes up a personality with the extreme circumstance that shapes them, and his prose is always on the right side of spare while still being supple.As with any collection of essays some are better than others, but none is unreadable, and some are superb. A book to read, and re-read.

  • Michele
    2019-06-16 02:55

    I found the essay about Mrs. Ghandi highly interesting. Noting that he knew the history of political violence including forced sterilization of Muslims, and still admiring her and falling under her spell. It is these glimpses that make me believe journalists can not be objective. Yet, I have a hard time classifying Chatwin as a journalist. Overall, not a book that I enjoyed terribly when compared with other Chatwin books. I don’t highly recommend it, nor will I read it again.For a more detailed review visit

  • L.J.
    2019-05-27 07:10

    Not my favorite Chatwin book and hard to give a truly fair review as many years have passed but finishing this one left me flat and as I had read almost all his books I didn't seem to want to complete my Chatwin literary journey. Collection of stories and only a handful were interesting, not on the level of Songlines or In Patagonia but completely different as a collection book as well. Someone else may find it better than myself.

  • Joseph Mckenna
    2019-06-01 11:04

    Does anyone do a better job creating vivid imagery with such sparse prose? Chatwin remains one of the most talented and varied authors of his generation. This wide ranging travelogue of his meanderings across the globe gives the reader glimpses of sailors from Patagonia, wolf boys in India, an eyewitness account of a west African revolution, yetis, and so much more. A great read for any fan of Chatwin.

  • Frank
    2019-05-28 05:01

    This collection, like most, ebbed and flowed for me, but overall, worth my time and the 86 cents I forked over for it. The best piece by far was about Werner Herzog and his crazy friend (Kininski?) making a movie in Africa. Kininski at one point was encouraging the women extras to riot, which they took up with alarming zeal.The China stuff was good too.He had a motif examing "nomadism" and the benefits of just walking, which I, in particular, nodded my head along with.

  • Maggie
    2019-06-10 08:56

    I really liked this book. Ironically I don't read too many travel books because I don't really find other people's adventures that fascinating unless they're actual guidebooks. I liked Bruce Chatwin's writing style and I thought I could relate to a lot of what his mind was going through when he traveled, although I haven't done nearly as many crazy things as him. Everyone should have a memoire, there's a market for anything these days.

  • da-wildchildz
    2019-05-31 03:55

    It has been a while since I read any Chatwin, so I decided it was about time I read some more. What Am I Doing Here? is a collection of stories, travelogues, thoughts and essays, which meant I never quite knew what I was getting, when I began another chapter. The chapters were short, which is perfect, when dipping in and out on a commute. Each snapshot was told in Chatwin’s typically amusing, informative and quirky style, which made it a fun and enjoyable read.