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June 20th, 2011 Comments Off on Of drones and dragons

Of drones and dragons

Sometimes when I’m writing I get behind on my movie viewing, and so it was only recently that I got to watch “How to Train Your Dragon,” a movie recommended by my son. The premise of the animated film is this: Viking-like villagers on a Norse island are plagued by visitations of flying dragons. The dragons arrive in a swarm, snatching up sheep, blowing balls of fire, and generally wreaking havoc. read more

April 29th, 2011 Comments Off on A sweet new lit mag

A sweet new lit mag

As literature struggles to retain its place of importance in our cultural life, it’s thrilling to see the birth of a new and serious magazine. The first issue of The Common, just released, is beautiful to look at, inspiring to read — and now on sale in better book stores! The Common also has an online presence, here. read more

April 26th, 2011 Comments Off on Sleeping soldiers

Sleeping soldiers

Last week Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya. Hetherington was a British photographer who lived in New York. With Sebastian Junger, he made “Restrepo,” the Oscar-nominated documentary about American soldiers at a remote, harrowed post in Afghanistan.

It’s a huge loss, to journalism and to all of us. I thought “Restrepo” was deeply impressive but you don’t need to watch it to get a sense of the artistry of Tim Hetherington. read more

March 1st, 2011 Comments Off on Now in paperback

Now in paperback

My latest book, The Routes of Man, is now out in paperback, sporting a beautiful new cover and an improved subtitle: Travels in the Paved World. It is available at neighborhood and online bookstores, and also as a Kindle book and an audio book.
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December 15th, 2010 Comments Off on 127 Hours, Aspen, and Me

127 Hours, Aspen, and Me

Recently the wife and I went to see “127 Hours,” Danny Boyle’s film about the real-life misadventure of mountaineer Aron Ralston. Ralston, as movieogers know, was solo hiking in a canyon in Utah when his arm got trapped beneath a boulder. In order to save his life, he had to leave his arm behind.

The separation of Ralston from his arm is a grisly, existential nightmare that I might not have chosen to see had the movie not gotten good reviews – and had I not written about outdoor adventure and death in my book, Whiteout: Lost in Aspen. My chapter, “The Chances You Take,” opens with my friend, Seth, returning home one lovely summer day to inform me that his hiking partner, the physicist Heinz Pagels, has fallen near the summit of 14,018-foot Pyramid Peak. The rescue team is assembling and he is to return in two hours; I drive him. read more

December 6th, 2010 1 Comment

Historic roads: going but not gone

For weeks (okay, months) I’ve been meaning to link to this thought-provoking post at BLDGBLOG, written by Geoff Manaugh. It’s about ancient routes all around us — at Monticello and in Vermont, San Francisco and Australia. Great images and comments at the bottom.

Perhaps because the United States is a young country, we don’t seem to think much about our old roads. But to me they’re among the most evocative features of the American landscape. read more

June 29th, 2010 4 Comments

In Memoriam: My Olympus OM-1

Though I’m always after my wife for saving too much stuff, in fact I have the same problem. One thing that’s been particularly hard for me to get rid of is my first good camera, a compact SLR called an Olympus OM-1. My attachment to the Olympus, a device which has long since outlived its usefulness, has to do not just with the many events it has helped me capture over the years, but to its own adventures while not under my control. read more

June 4th, 2010 1 Comment

Doonesbury, on Roads

Has Garry Trudeau been reading The Routes of Man?

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