Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Palestine, tourism, travel guide writing

I just finished reading Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm, as loaned to me by Husband’s friend Georgia. Since I’m half way (in my dreams) through writing a travel guide, a comedic dash through the hectic life of a guidebook writer looked like amusing reading, and in places Kohnstamm’s book is. It’s certainly pretty pacey and there are some entertaining anecdotes, as well as good points on how people should actually engage with travel guides – what to trust or not, the perils of treating your shiny new Lonely Planet like it’s the Holy Bible (and the reasons why those who are totally contemptuous of guidebooks are also wrong). He’s also damn right that it’s not a job that’ll make anyone rich. But if he’s telling the truth about how Lonely Planet operates (hiring a writer unfamiliar with the country to cover unrealistically large areas in unrealistically short amounts of time), I’m just glad that Bradt are a million miles away from that.

However, as a general read, Kohnstamm is, for my taste, just a little too eager to, ummm, share. I don’t have a problem with graphic sex scenes per se, but I found that I’m less keen on them when what I’m reading is autobiographical and there’s a picture of the shag-ee on the back cover of the book. Kohnstamm also seems to have a disturbing interest in what happens to his own semen well after it has left his body… and, in the end, sex scenes are like drug stories (of which there are also plenty in this book) – other people’s tend to pall quite quickly. And to finish off the whinge, this book really, really needed a better proof reader. There were dodgy apostrophes galore, several instances of ‘make due’ instead of ‘make do’, and – most annoying – “the taught skin between your thumb and index finger”. Grrrrrr…..

In a more serious reflection on the issues surrounding tourism, here is Stuart Littlewood‘s excellent article on Israeli efforts to stomp on Palestinian attempts to advertise the country’s nascent tourist industry.

One comment on “Palestine, tourism, travel guide writing

  1. Pingback: Palestine, tourism, travel guide writing / Sarah Irving | Travel News

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