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I’m very happy to be the new Travel and Lifestyle editor for LitroNY online. As such, I’m interested more in particularity than in “the sights.” When we think about places we’ve loved – whether vicariously through literature, art, and film or through firsthand experience – the things that come immediately to mind are the telling details, the locations, activities, and individuals that made an impression.
I like stories that deal with the fascinating aspects of everyday life. Monuments and attractions are wonderful, but real culture is in life as it’s being lived, day by day. This is the sort of travel writing I want to feature, writing that provides a fresh authentic look at the world. I think this brings the world into focus in ways that delight and inspire us to think globally in ways we might have otherwise missed.
This means I’m interested in everything as long as it’s compelling. What are the drinks that certain places have made famous? Tell us about them and who’s drinking them now. What about the global expat community? That uncle who’s been living in Bora Bora for 17 years with a circle of British, Australian, and Chinese friends he now calls his second family – how did he get there? How did they get there?
What about the places that tourism prefers to avoid, places we’re told never to visit? There are unique (even amazing) sides to such places that go unnoticed. What can learn there? Tell us a story about them!
How do the locals blow off steam? What happens, for example, in the Public Gardens of Bujumbura during l’interdict or across the world in Whitehorse, Yukon, during a deep freeze? Astonish us with the things our fellow humans get up to when they want to play.
I also want this to be more than just reportage. Good travel writing can be as in-the-moment as it is literary. I’m not in search of pieces that are lofty or elite (necessarily). Rather, I think the best travel narratives artfully deal with human life in diverse contexts. And so we’ll also focus on the arts – the sort of things people happen to be creating in Bangkok, London, or Greenfield, Oklahoma, pop. 93.
That said, we’ll also pay homage to the literary mission of Litro by inviting established non-fiction and travel writers to contribute small pieces focusing on how they write. We’ll reprint passages from famous travel narratives of the past. And we’ll encourage readers to send in questions about particular places in an attempt to see whether existing travel writing speaks to such things or we can’t discover the answers ourselves.
If you love writers as diverse as Paul Theroux, Alfred Lansing, Ryszard Kapuściński, Hunter S. Thompson, William Vollmann, Gontran de Poncins, Ian Frazier, Bill Bryson, Hakim Bey, or V.S. Naipaul, you’ve come to the right place. If you appreciate these masters of the form and you love telling a great story about the world in which we live, I want to hear from you.
Michael is LitroNY's Travel and Lifestyle editor. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and his story collection, Gravity, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2009. Michael holds a PhD in English from Western Michigan University. Currently, he is a lecturer in English for Stamford International University in Bangkok.