I've had some experience with Everywhere reader/writers -- usually when I'm trapped in the center aisle on a runway. We're scheduled for takeoff -- once the ice caps melt -- and invariably, a man with primordial politics who refuses to share the armrest opens with a tirade against the airline, then launches into "For my money...." and reveals the wonders of Akron, home to Goodyear Tires. Please, no one from Ohio write me. I'm sure it's a lovely place, once you get the smell of rubber out of your clothes. Still, I am trapped in Sartre's "No Exit" and the window beckons. Sadly, I can't fit through it.
So though I love travel, I'm not a fan of first-person accounts. They often fall into the category of achingly precious, which makes one long for gin, or outrageously stupid, which makes one long for more. Neither option is appealing to a grown-up. So it is with trepidation, I approach Everywhere. I have the same misgivings when attending a wedding I know is headed for divorce court. The only issue: how cheap can the gift be? If they don't last, why should it?
Everywhere, which is mostly short blurbs accompanied by snapshots, opens with "Our Own Private Antarctica." I don't do chilly. I don't even read books with cold words in the title. It's followed by "Harbin on Ice." I'm tempted to turn the page, but the photo -- a sprawling neon-lit Chinese setting -- intrigues. The city's temperature is 40 below nearly half the year. Yet the writer claims the annual festival of snow and ice sculptures attracts "over a million tourists each winter." Is this possible? Do people willingly freeze their retinas to see a frozen Hello, Kitty? And if they do, should they be allowed to vote?
You see where Everywhere is going. Next up is the prospect of eating sizzled scorpions on a stick. The accompanying picture was more "Fear Factor" than Food Network and wholly unappetizing. An equally odd photo choice was the pyramids in Cairo -- odd because it's not a shot of the pyramids, per se. It's a photo of the hotel room, with an Evian bottle. The Giza pyramids are viewed in the distance. The reader/writer/flack manages to plug the hotel, too. Shilling is clearly a universal sport.
I can't imagine who would read this pub, save for its reader/writers, who are madly searching for their 150-word write-up of the disastrous ride through Wyoming or that quasi-artistic close-up of a rusting gas pump in Utah. I can't decide which visual depressed me more -- the young Kiwi who wedged himself into a hostel locker in the Czech Republic or a rock that looks like Richard Nixon, slugged New Zealand Rocks!!! (Yes, three exclamation points.) If my eyes weren't sealed shut from the Harbin chill, I'd cry.
I could go on, but I think Adam Bell's entry on the communist-sponsored banner arch in Nepal said it all. Dang, his "smiley guide-in-training," asked him who the communists were. Bell didn't have time to explain. Seized by violent cramps, he "set off downhill as fast as I could go." Everywhere, stop the presses.
Published by: 8020 Publishing