Monday, November 21, 2011

Larry McMurtry's five best travel books

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. His other works include two collections of essays, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays, including the coauthorship of Brokeback Mountain, for which he received an Academy Award.

His new novel is The Berrybender Narratives.

One of McMurtry's five best travel books, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Slowly Down the Ganges
by Eric Newby (1966)

I have chosen Eric Newby's "Slowly Down the Ganges" rather than his justly acclaimed "A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" (blurbed by E. Waugh) because the latter book doesn't have much of Newby's best character: his wife, Wanda. She is in the Ganges book on practically every page, and her endearing, illusion-puncturing pessimism is justified throughout. In professional life, Newby worked for many years in the rag trade—couture may be too elevated a word—but now and then, when he got fed up with fashion, he would set off with Wanda on a really arduous trip, such as this much-interrupted 1,200-mile journey down the Ganges in 1963. There is a lot of comedy—the boat runs aground 63 times in the first week—but the couple's deep and subtly expressed love of India often breaks through.
Read about the other books on McMurtry's list.

Also see: Samuel Muston's ten best travel books, Tony Hiss's six favorite travel reads, Don George's top 10 travel books of the last century, Peter Mayle's 6 favorite travel books, Laura Landro's five best books about travel, and Paul Collins'a 10 oddest travel guides.

--Marshal Zeringue