Monday, July 5, 2010

Marco Polo Didn't Go There

I picked up Rolf Potts' award winning collection of travel essays, Marco Polo Didn't Go There after reading an article by him in Afar magazine. Written over the course of the past decade for a variety of travel magazines, each carefully constructed story creates it's own little world and moment in time. Rolf's writing is humorous, wistful, thought provoking and informative. He comes across like a really smart and cool friend you hear from every so often who is off in places you wouldn't dream of going, and doing things you wouldn't do if someone paid you. Most of the stories take place in southeast Asia and the Middle East, which are very popular in vagabonding and backpacker circles. The 'characters' he meets reflect that mixture of past/present everywhereness we've become accustomed to in the Information Age where you might be a subsistence farmer with a cell phone or a rapper living in a rainforest. I liked his 'backpacker' perspective, as I'm not one, and enjoyed the artistic eye and literary sensibility he brought to his writing. Each story concludes with 'Endnotes' explaining what Rolf left in or took out and why: a sort of 'Behind the Music' for each story, which seemed oddly appropriate for the 21st century.  

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