Exciting trend in newspaper travel writing

The continuing devastation of newspapers (the Ventura County Star, for whom I write, is undergoing another reorganization) has had countless bad effects, but a few good ones. 

Travel writing, which so often used to be focused on expensive resorts, hotels, and must-see tourist attractions, has found a new style — based on literature and characters. 

I linked to an example from the exemplary New York Times, a couple of years, ago, in which a writer followed in the footsteps of Mary Oliver, out to a favorite pond of hers on Cape Cod. 

Now in the Los Angeles Times, book review editor David Ulin follows in the footsteps of Holden Caulfield in New York, giving us a picture both of the young searcher, excited to be in the city, but on edge too. It's this psychological desperation, Ulin reveals, that brings the city alive: 

New York can be the most exciting place on the planet, and it can also be the most forlorn. To walk it, to experience it at street level, is to see it in all its complex contradictions, from the Lunts and Rockefeller Center to the Grand Central Station waiting room. This is especially true if you are from here, this tension between exhilaration and loneliness. 

In a single piece, Ulin makes a reader want to re-experience the book, and the city too. That's good travel writing. 

Which character, which author will be next? It's been a long time since newspaper travel writing felt so fresh. 

Here's a picture from the story, a crucial scene for Caulfield, at a diorama at the Museum of Natural History. Wish I could say that the presentation on the web looked as good as it did in the paper. 


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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