What’s new in writing on travel and place

Travel and place figured strongly in the Saturday magazine of The Guardian. There were reviews of Motherlands by Amaryllis Gacioppo (Bloomsbury), “a remarkable literary debut” in which a writer and translator born into an Italian family in Australia traces her ancestors’ footsteps across Europe and Libya; and Swamp Songs by Tom Blass (also from Bloomsbury), who, in “a bracingly original work”, goes in search of the people who live by marsh, meadow and other wetlands. In the essay slot, “The Big Idea”, James Crawford, author of The Edge of the Plain: How Borders Make and Break Our World (out this Thursday from Canongate), asked whether fixed frontiers are sustainable in an era of global heating and mass migration, and what arrangements might replace them.  His piece doesn’t appear to be online yet, but I’ll add a link when it is. * (Incidentally, the current “Story of the Week” slot in the digital magazine Narrative focuses on one particular fault-line. William Fleeson, who was born in Washington, DC, crosses the US-Mexico border for the first time between El Paso and Juárez, which “share a border, a river, and the same broken marriage”.

  One of the latest contributions to the website Five Books is on books that convey a strong sense of place. They’re chosen by Patrick Galbraith, author of In Search of One Last Song: Britain’s disappearing birds and the people trying to save them (William Collins).

 From the archives of The New York Review of Books comes a celebration of Maine from 1971 by Elizabeth Hardwick, novelist, biographer and one of the magazine’s founders:

Nature more than man inclines toward the general in Maine. The place always reminds one of some abstract pictorial representation of itself. Rotting boats, apple green. The cold, severe seas, home to old sailors with grizzled, undulating beards, boots, rubber coat, head turned to one side in a rocky smile. Is it Winslow Homer?

Many more diversions await in the latest Genius Loci newsletter from Jeremy Bassetti, host of the Travel Writing World podcast. He’s currently en route to South America, from where he will be posting a regular photography newsletter, “30 Days in the Andes”.

* James Crawford’s piece is now online.

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