The Lunatic Express

by Carl Hoffman | Travel |
ISBN: 9780767929813 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 6/10/2020
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, June 10, 2020
I found this book in this Little Free Library in Merrimack NH, after seeing a note in this book's JEs - the finder's late mother-in-law had wanted her own books distributed to LFLs, and the finder invited me to pick some up for BookCrossing. I left a note in the LFL to let the finder know, as they hadn't created a BC account yet; will move this book along in memory of a fellow book-lover from San Diego CA!

I chose this one because I enjoy travel-essay/memoir books, and this one sounded especially fun - its subtitle is "Discovering the World . . . via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes"!

Later: Not quite what I expected - certainly NOT in the funny/snarky travel-writing vein at all. Much of it involves the author's introspection about why he travels so much, often at the expense of his family life, and his choice to deliberately take the most dangerous forms of transport in every country he can find seems... disturbing.

I did appreciate the way the book let me see so many different places and transport-types without having to experience them myself {wry grin}. I like that in a travel narrative, and this certainly qualified. Whether the author's describing multi-day trips on crowded buses over narrow and steep roads, with colorful details involving the periodic stops where passengers line up side by side to pee at the edge of the road, or the equally-crowded ferries (where accidents may underrate the loss of life because they typically carry many more people than are listed on any manifest), or the hours/days of waiting in remote villages or crowded cities, it's a look at slices of life that I find intriguing - though I most emphatically do not want to experience myself.

The author notes the somewhat ironic twist that, for all his efforts to find the riskiest travel choices, his travels went pretty smoothly - he met with more sympathy and helpfulness than threats. Indeed, the most hazardous points of his journey took place in a "safer" spot, a city he stopped in to visit with friends. That, and the stops in Afghanistan, complete with Taliban activity and armed guards at every gate... But none of his buses crashed or ferries sank or cabs were hijacked. At the end of the book he adds a note with actuarial numbers, in which he learned that if he'd taken the same route 1,000 times, he'd have had a 50% chance of dying - so yeah, they were hazardous, but not quite the automatic-death-sentence he'd apparently expected. (The news items that introduce each chapter demonstrate that there certainly are dangers - and as most of them involved journeys that workers had to take every day, their odds of encountering disaster were much higher than for a one-time visitor.)

Overall, the tone of the book was more dark and discontented than anything else, with the segments of surprise (and even a few of joy) only made the rest seem more bleak by contrast. I do hope the author's feeling better!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Sequoia Dr in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts USA on Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Released 4 wks ago (7/7/2020 UTC) at Little Free Library, Sequoia Dr in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts USA


Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the LFL site here.

I left this book in this newly-listed Little Free Library in Tyngsboro MA; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

*** Released for the 2020 Seeking Septads challenge, for the 7-letter words in the title. ***

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