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BAD TOURIST, MISADVENTURES IN LOVE AND TRAVEL

I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof of Suzanne Robert’s Bad Tourist back in mid-July. I picked it up briefly toward the end of July but put it away because I already had two or three books to read and review ahead of it. But curiosity won out, and having already read Shameless and Plotting Temporality; I sneaked a peek and read The Love Test, the first essay in the grouping called Sights. Travel writing may not be my genre of choice, but it was easy to see that after reading the first essay, I felt pretty sure I was going to like the whole book. Finally, in late August, I picked it up again and could not put it down.

Bad Tourist, Misadventures in Love and Travel is a travel book written as a most personal memoir of the author’s trek over four continents and fifteen countries. When Roberts wrote requesting a review, she cautioned, “This book isn’t going to be for everyone.” That said, I would remind you, dear reader, of the word “Misadventures” in the book’s title. Since I like the author’s poetry, and the first essay in Bad Tourist, and the fact that she was named “The Next Best Travel Writer” by  National Geographic Traveler, I figured this was my chance to sample a different sort travel writing.

By the fourth or fifth essay, I wondered if a memoirist can be called a protagonist? Does a travel book even have a protagonist? To hell with genres, by the sixth essay Loving the Lie, and then the eighth essay in the same grouping (Sleeping), Fourteen One-Night Stands, the author as Traveler was making me angry and frustrated. However, the author as Writer kept me reading nonstop. After every stupid and destructive foray into a sexual exploit taking place in a world of fascinating locations, I found myself almost yelling out loud, “Get a life, girl, can’t you see what you are doing?” Then, because I am now wise beyond my 78 years, I had to ask myself why the memoirist’s behavior was so upsetting. I have a lot of years to look back on. My pre-and after-marriage behavior might have been different from Roberts, but underneath it all, there I was.

With less than fifty pages to go to the end, I did something I haven’t done since I was a kid. I turned to the last essay, Hiking Home. I had to know that Roberts made it, that she finally found home, found herself. By that time, I knew writing a review of Bad Tourist would not be easy. Places to stay? What to wear, or not? What to drink? Transportation? Roberts was right, Bad Tourist “isn’t going to be for everyone.” but I have a feeling that if readers hang in there, and remember that we are all on life’s journey, they might be surprised to find that Bad Tourist is exactly the right book for them.

If you’d like to hear Suzanne read from Bad Tourist, I encourage you to check out her virtual reading event from Sundance Books on Friday, October 16th.  With a nod toward more than one country, I will tune in while sipping some fine tequila.  –  Sunny Solomon

Also available by Suzanne Roberts: Nothing to You; Three Hours to Burn a Body; Plotting Temporality, Almost Somewhere

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