I bought my copy of The Best American Travel Writing 2006 a few days ago, as I do every year. There’s always a prominent guest editor’s name on the cover of this anthology. This year, it’s Tim Cahill, following Jamaica Kincaid (2005), Pico Iyer (2004), Ian Frazier (2003), Frances Mayes (2002), Paul Theroux (2001) and Bill Bryson (2000). When they aren’t guest editing, it is not uncommon for their bylines to appear in the year’s collected works.
Travel writers of this caliber hook me hard and reel me in to the places they have been, the things they have seen and the adventures they have experienced. By and large, my travels are closer to home. In fact, I often joke that I’m a travel writer who doesn’t often leave her time zone. I know (and write) a lot about Colorado, and also Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Montana, especially the mountain areas.
The best travel pieces captivate me and carry me far away. I love to take the latest “best” anthology for whenever I have time on airplanes and in hotel and motel rooms. I can read a story originally published in, say, National Geographic Adventure, put the book aside for a few days, pick it up again and read something from The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker or the New York Times Magazine. And of course, there’s always at least one piece from Outside.
I would consider the publication of one of my pieces in The Best American Travel Writing to be the apex of my writing career, but then again, I have rarely even dared submit anything. Rather like the lottery, if I don’t play, I can never win. But then, I just don’t get the opportunity to do the kind of erudite, insightful travel writing that finds its way into this wonderful annual. So I buy the book every year, grateful to Houghton Mifflin for continuing to support the series and set off on my annual armchair voyage to distant and/or exotic and/or exciting places as experienced by the best travel journalists writing in the English language.