Originally Submitted to the Astral Codex Ten Book Review Contest
Great essay, thanks for the writing. I too am a fan of DFW although oddly I've only read his shorter non-fiction stuff.
I do still have a question though, why/how did this lead to stock purchases?
This encouraged me to go and read the whole thing. "White as communion wafers" might be the best line I've read in a while. Hated IJ, but you've convinced me to read more of his essays. Thanks!
>DFW admits that he’d hardly left the country before at time of writing, and it shows both in his tendency to label things like the bovine herds of tourists and love of lowbrow mass-market entertainment as uniquely American, and his inability to discern that travel and enjoyment of exotic locals is a skill much like other skills, one that most tourists simply don’t possess.
This stuck out at me. In my experience, it's become easier than ever to *not* do a Standard Tourism Package - the internet will let you find offbeat experiences in any city on the planet. You can find a bike tour of Bangkok, or a Japanese cooking class, or a walking tour of Chicago, or anything that suits your fancy. It's so simple (once you're aware of your options) that you wonder why anyone would do something as boring as a cruise.
Sure, going on AirBnB and finding an Offbeat Adventure Experience for sale is still in some ways a mass-market touristy thing to do, but at least it's a touristy experience that you chose because you thought it was unique and interesting rather than an undifferentiated mass of pampering. You can get pampered anywhere, why bother traveling if that's your only goal?
(If I had to make this into some broader point about the Problems of Modernity, I would say that the modern era is one where you can do so many things that you can't simply Do A Leisure, you have to actually figure out what you like and do it intentionally, and that's surprisingly difficult.)
A bit disappointing - the review of the title essay is quite good, but you neglect entirely the other essays which make up this collection, and I definitely would have liked to get your thoughts on those.
This was an excellent read, thank you.
Just wanted to say I like your writing, and I hope you do more
I own the book in German, liked what I read, but stopped early: Shall pick it up again. - Also picked up Carnival-cruises-shares when the Corona-crash looked over. My parents loved their cruises! - Still waiting for this stocks to go up ... - well, most others I have disappoint, too. Hope dies last. - Kinda sad, you did not make it to the finals this year. It is a good review, no doubt. Your two other reviews I know were "better suited" for that competition.