“I began to get tired of staying in one place so long.” So said Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known to all as Mark Twain. Ironically, the quintessential American writer spent many years of his life living and traveling around the world. Sometimes because of wanderlust, sometimes because of economic necessity, he was on the go constantly. And along the way he encountered colorful characters, strange institutions and cultures, a variety of adventures and misadventures, all of which he incorporated into his travel writing-writing that reflects Twain’s matchless eye for irony, humor and, now and then, tragedy. Mark Twain on Travel is a timeless collection of some of Twain’s best writing, as he catalogued the antics of what he came to call “the damned human race.”
in Jack London on Adventure, are excerpts from his well-loved works, which were the result of his restless quest for experience, combined with “his observations of unalterable facts,” as editor Terry Mort writes in his introduction. Lose yourself in the sheer unending quietude of the North in “White Fang” and “The White Silence”; enter into the listless, worried mind of an elder in “The League of the Old Men”; prepare to sail around the world for seven years’ time alongside the author-turned-captain, himself, in “The Cruise of the Snark,” where the famed boat is built with each dollar earned from London’s writings; and peek into the observations of seasoned sailors and the foolish passengers they carry in “The Sea Wolf.” Mort ends with the statement, “A complex man and artist is hard to capture in a single image,” but in terms of the unlikely and unknown, London’s works here capture the thrill that burned in him so brightly.
Though he made his name and his fortune as an author of Western novels, Zane Grey’s best writing has to do with fishing. There he was free from the conventions of the Western genre and the expectations of the market, and he was able to blend his talent for narrative with his keen eye for detail and humor, much of it self-deprecating, into books and articles that are both informative and exciting.