Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book-A-Day #87 (10/12): Gullible's Travels by Cash Peters

I'd seen this book recommended somewhere I can no longer remember a while ago, and spent a number of months looking for it in bookstores. Finally, I gave up and just special-ordered the thing.

(Luckily, I enjoyed it.)

Peters is a finicky, 46-year-old Englishman who has mostly worked in radio journalism (though, as he keeps saying in this book, he really wants to get into TV), and this book chronicles the last eighteen months or so of a series of reports he did for Minnesota Public Radio (yes, the Big Leagues) called The Bad Taste Tours. Essentially, he spent five or six years going to tacky places and making fun of them.

And this is great, because he's one of those sarcastic, nitpicky types who can't stand sentiment and is really good at making snide remarks under his breath. Gullible's Travels ends up being a record of those snide remarks (about such horrors as The Museum of Bad Art, The American Museum of Sanitary Plumbing, The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, and Graceland).

Along the way, he also decides that he's tired of doing this, but, thankfully, he never descends into soul-searching or pathos. This isn't a memoir, with teary revelations and heartfelt connections with his past; Peters was quite happy to do this gig for a while, but eventually he wanted to do something else. And good for him.

I did laugh out loud several times while reading this, and found it at least amusing all of the way through. It was a pain to get a hold of, but it was worthwhile in the end. (And Peters did reveal near the end that he is gay, thus proving my suspicions -- neat, middle-aged, unmarried, fussy, few possessions, lives with an unspecified "partner" -- true.) If the idea of going to weird tourist destinations and making fun of them sounds good to you, read this book.

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