The New York Times: Footsteps Book Review

footsteps, New York Times, travel, literature, nonfiction, book, booksBy: The New York Times

Nonfiction

292 Pages

A curated collection of the New York Times’ travel column, “Footsteps,” exploring iconic authors’ relationships to landmarks and cities around the world

Before Nick Carraway was drawn into Daisy and Gatsby s sparkling, champagne-fueled world in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald vacationed in the French Riviera, where a small green lighthouse winked at ships on the horizon. Before the nameless lovers began their illicit affair in The Lover, Marguerite Duras embarked upon her own scandalous relationship amidst the urban streets of Saigon. And before readers were terrified by a tentacled dragon-man called Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft was enthralled by the Industrial Trust tower– the 26-story skyscraper that makes up the skyline of Providence, Rhode Island.

Based on the popular New York Times travel column, Footsteps is an anthology of literary pilgrimages, exploring the geographic muses behind some of history’s greatest writers. From the “dangerous, dirty and seductive” streets of Naples, the setting for Elena Ferrante’s famous Neapolitan novels, to the “stone arches, creaky oaken doors, and riverside paths” of Oxford, the backdrop for Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, Footsteps takes a fresh approach to literary tourism, appealing to readers and travel enthusiasts alike.”

Completion

The book is a collection of articles from the New York Times travel column. The articles all share the same travel and literary theme but are about different topics. This makes it more of a coffee table book that you pick up and read an article or two at time rather than a read-in-one-sitting kind of book.

(Full Disclaimer: I actually read this book last summer and am just now getting around to reviewing this.)

Writing/Style

The articles are written by different authors so they have different writing styles. However, if you’ve ever read anything from The New York Times before, then you will know the general style.

Characters

While there weren’t characters per se, I was disappointed that I didn’t feel more connected to the authors and their literary travel journeys. These articles felt a little bit more…distant? reserved? than the creative nonfiction that I have come to love.

Plot/Pacing

This doesn’t really apply to this collection. I will say that the articles were easy to get through and didn’t get bogged down anywhere.

World-building/Atmosphere

I think some articles did better than others at really making their settings come to life.

Sub-genres (Romance, Humor, Mystery, etc.)

Perhaps this collection would have appealed to me more if I had read more of the literary works and known more about the literary authors discussed. I did know a few and had even gone to some of the locations, but even the articles involving what I knew fell a little flat for me.

 

FINAL VERDICT

This book was just middle of the road for me. A solid MEH, if you will. Perhaps you will enjoy it more than me, but I wouldn’t actively recommend it.