Non-fiction: Travel essay

Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz

I’m not even going to tell you how long it took me to read this book. It’s embarrassing. Even more so because I have no good reason for the delay – the book was perfectly good, it was just sheer laziness on my part. I can’t even blame the onset of new television because I was reading this book long before then.

So. In Blue Latitudes, Tony Horwitz decides to follow Captain Cook around the globe. Which is interesting enough, but really I think I had a problem with Horwitz’ writing. It seemed a little too journalistic to me, as though he was reporting rather than regaling. It makes sense, though, seeing as he’s a Pulitzer-winning reporter, that he would be more comfortable in reporter-mode. But it’s not what I was hoping for – I prefer my travel narratives more in the style of Bill Bryson, much more personal and personable. Tony’s own experiences seemed rather dry because they were just reported, a style which worked much better when he was relating Captain Cook’s actual experiences (which were very exciting and, more than once, I was glad when he turned back to the historical narrative line).

I’ll tell you a secret. I actually only bought Blue Latitudes because I really wanted A Voyage Long and Strange but wasn’t ready to pay hardcover prices not knowing if I’d like the writer. And, despite my above complaints about Horwitz, I think I’ll likely end up going back for A Voyage Long and Strange (though I can’t exactly put my finger on why I’m willing to give him a second chance).

My rating: B

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