Author Crush


Mar 28 2011

Asking Fiona Caulfield, author of the Love Guides for India

There are not many occasions when following a guide book feels like taking advice from a native, but Fiona Caulfield accomplishes the impossible, creating a compendium of  ”better than a native” suggestions in the Love Guides for India. An Australian native, she has made India her home. Given our ongoing obsession with the Love Guides and my recent trip to India, we decided to pick Fiona Caulfield’s brain for even more tips than her books already provide. Fiona Caulfield is officially our newest author crush.

1. Do you prefer aisle or window? (Please explain.)

Aisle, specifically an aisle in a middle row. I need freedom.

2. The Love Guides are incredibly detailed. How long did you travel in India before you started making them to compile your bank of insider information?

I first travelled to India in 1992, then again in 2001. I became a resident in India late 2004 with the idea for the brand and then published the first book in February 2007. It now takes about a year to research the first edition of a book.

3. The guidebooks themselves and the maps and drawings they contain are so charming. What gives you the inspiration for their design?

The design brief was sensuality and the content brief intimacy. I wanted the content to feel like I had written a letter to a good friend and the drawings to be like a sketch I would include in a letter, if I could draw. Continue Reading »

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Jul 14 2010

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Published by under Book Reviews

For an author to be properly crushable, he must possess not only a pretty face, but impressive talent. Handsome hacks are not welcome on the Author Crush List. That said, Tom Rachman is pretty damn crushable.

Behind those dreamy eyes is a mind I’d love to get into. I’d like to know, for instance, how Rachman manages to slip so skillfully into the lives of eleven very different people. How does he know eleven different kinds of aspiration? Eleven different kinds of desperation? Eleven different kinds of loneliness? And how does he whip these stories into the portrait of a modern-day newsroom while also delivering the history of the paper from inception to present day? How does he write The Imperfectionists so perfectly?

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Nov 25 2009

To Hellholes and Back with Chuck Thompson

Published by under Book Reviews,Travel

To Hellholes and Back

Chuck Thompson’s books are not for the faint of heart…or stomach. But anyone who has traveled past their city lines will appreciate his commentary on the highs and lows of travel. His first book,  Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer, is a favorite of the GCB staff. His upcoming book due in December, To Hellholes and Back, promises to be equally popular. Chuck was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his travel, his books, and his taste in beer.

1. Do you prefer aisle or window? (Please explain.)

Aisle always, avoiding at all costs the trays-down imprisonment of slow post-meal and beverage-service pickup.

2. The subtitle of To Hellholes and Back is “bribes, lies, and the art of extreme tourism.” Could you give us your definition of “extreme tourism?

“Extreme tourism” is often associated with space tourism or living in a grass hut in Papua New Guinea for a month. But if your idea of a good time is hanging out in grass huts, what’s so extreme about that? Extreme travel, to me, is anything that takes you out of your comfort zone — physically, intellectually, emotionally. That’s why both the Congo and Disney presented me with “extreme” opportunities. I didn’t want anything to do with either one.

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Nov 13 2009

We asked J. Maarten Troost

Published by under Book Reviews,Travel

Sex Lives fo Cannibals - by J. Maarten Proost

The Sex Lives of Cannibals - by J. Maarten Proost

J. Maarten Troost  has been Lost on Planet China, caught Getting Stoned with Savages and adrift in sea of The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Although he isn’t presently floating on a raft off a remote island in the South Pacific, it took some sleuthing to find him. When we did track him down, he was nice enough to respond to some of our questions.

1) Do you prefer aisle or window? (Please explain.)

Window, which is kind of odd because flying is essentially one long cardiac event for me. I do not like to fly. It is what it is and I try to live with it. But whenever I find myself looking down upon Afghanistan or Iran or the Kamchatka Peninsula I find that I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, unless there’s turbulence, in which case I whimper and sway as I try to find my special place.

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Oct 19 2009

An Irreverent Curiosity about David Farley

Published by under Book Reviews,Travel

An Irreverent Curiosity--by David Farley

An Irreverent Curiosity - by David Farley

First and foremost, David Farley is a (self-proclaimed) awesome dancer. Secondly, Farley is the author of An Irreverent Curiosity and has travel essays in Travelers’ Tales Best Travel Writing 2009, Travelers’ Tales Prague, and 30 Days in Italyas well as in numerous magazines and newspapers. And wait, there’s more: he also writes for WorldHum.com. We had so much fun asking Rolf Potts some questions we decided to see if one of our other favorite travel writers would answer and even be up for our version of The Hemingway Challenge.  He was kind enough to respond.

1) Do you prefer aisle or window? (Please explain.)

Always the aisle. I like to move about the cabin whenever the spirit strikes me and if I’m sitting at the window, I’m stuck there, lest I want to pester the person sitting at the aisle (which I don’t). Extra special bonus lovely seat: the aisle seat in an exit row.

2) Have you ever pretended that you were Canadian while overseas?

Never. And I never will.

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Oct 17 2009

Asking Rolf Potts

Published by under Book Reviews,Travel

Marco Polo Didn't Go There - by Rolf Potts

Marco Polo Didn't Go There - by Rolf Potts

Marco Polo Didn’t Go There is a collection of travel stories by Rolf Potts from a decade of writing for publications like National Geographic Traveler, Salon.com, and WorldHum.com. He’s also been selected for The Best American Travel Writing anthologies several times and is best known for his book, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Each essay in Marco Polo is accompanied by  a “special commentary track” that gives the reader clarifications and anecdotes about each story. After Sarah and I read the book, we still had a few questions that we were dying to ask. Since his travel advice column for WorldHum.com is called Ask Rolf…we did.

1. Do you prefer aisle or window? (Please explain why.)

Aisle.  I have long legs, and it’s nice to stretch them out every so often.

2. What’s your worst meal experience while traveling?

I’d say the bag of peanuts I bought in the Siphandon region of Laos in 1999. There were rumors of a cholera epidemic in the area at the time, so I was avoiding restaurant meals.  I figured a bag of peanuts would be fine.

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Aug 20 2009

The Real Japan

Published by under Book Reviews

Real World - by Natsuo Kirino

Real World - by Natsuo Kirino

Many readers who express an interest in Japanese literature are already familiar with Natsuo Kirino’s fascinating work. Her recent novel, Real World, reads like a social study carefully disguised as crime fiction. The crime itself, a murder, slowly makes its way out of the picture, revealing other dangers, and rushing the story forward like a Tokyo bullet train.

The main characters are high school students with few bonds to each other and whose aspirations are as mundane as to simply live a peaceful life. Unfortunately, that is not meant to happen, and their worlds are doomed to be invaded by all the threats of the real world imaginable: school girl-obsessed creeps, fortune tellers, marketers, shallow pop-culture, alienated parents, personal disasters they have no idea how to cope with, smothering relatives and peers forcing them to study, study, study until you “spit up blood”, study “like you are going to die.” Continue Reading »

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May 20 2009

Love and Sausages: Aleksander Hemon and Cevapi

Published by under Book Reviews

The Lazarus Project - by Aleksandar Hemon

The Lazarus Project - by Aleksandar Hemon

Love and Obstacles, the new book of short interlinked stories by Aleksander Hemon, arrived just in time for me to browse it before I went to hear him speak at the Harvard Bookstore. These stories are linked by a common character: a young Bosnian from Sarajevo who leaves for the United States right before the war in Bosnia erupted in 1992 and ends up sort of stranded abroad. The narrator is a familiar voice, and it is very similar to characters’ in Hemon’s previous books, The Question of Bruno, Nowhere Man, and current Globe Corner Bookstore Staff Favorite and highly acclaimed The Lazarus Project. The books are not autobiographical, but Hemon’s biography and the character’s share many common traits so I kind of felt like I knew him–I was very curious to see what he was like.

I was a little shocked when he first came to the podium, as he looked a bit different from the author photo on the back page. But, soon I was laughing along with the crowd as he read the witty dialog from the final story, The Noble Truths of Suffering. I became completely charmed if not completely smitten with him. As he was reading a passage describing “his” Sarajevo (one of my favorite places in the world) I was lulled into a dreamlike state and started to think of one of my most favorite places in Sarajevo…the cevabdzinica. The sausage shop.

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Mar 10 2009

Hidden Treasures – Our Graphic Crush on Guy Delisle

Published by under Book Reviews

The Burma Chronicles--by Guy Delisle

The Burma Chronicles--by Guy Delisle

Having recently traded in the lush madness of Southeast Asia for the prim, snow-covered streets of Cambridge, I’ve been spending a lot of time in our Asia section–perusing the shelves for books and pictures chronicling others’ adventures through the region, gazing fondly at the photos of Wats and markets I’ve been to, and just generally daydreaming about lychee-flavored ice cream on hot green afternoons.

Recently, while lost in one of my Asian fantasies, I came across The Burma Chronicles, a bamboo-green covered book with a cartoon of the author pushing a stroller past two glaring soldiers with machine guns.  Naturally, I was intrigued. Continue Reading »

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Feb 28 2009

Cartageña de Indias & the Hay Festival

Cartagena--photo by Harriet

Cartagena--photo by Harriet

We arrived in Cartageña to welcome sun and humidity. The 5-10 minute stroll along the harbor, from our hotel in the Getsemaní district to the entrance to the walled city, was glorious even during the mid-day heat. The walled city’s many plazas, varied retail districts, cobblestone streets, and beautifully maintained or restored buildings were breathtaking. It was reassuring to be in a historic port–a cultural travel destination that still somehow retains a sense of everyday life. We wandered down narrow streets, gazing at colorful buildings, pausing in plazas (many with fountains) to take in cafes, check our map, and plan our next route to a museum or church. Continue Reading »

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