Sunday, February 13, 2011

Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier

Only Nixon could go to China, but plenty of guys have gone to Siberia -- Ian Frazier has an eight-page bibliography in Travels in Siberia, and that's not an exhaustive list. But Siberia is a big place -- about one-twelfth of all of the land on Earth -- so there's room for plenty of books about it.

Frazier first went to Russia in 1993, after falling in love with the country for not-entirely explicable reasons -- but the fact that he previously wrote a long book called Great Plains, about a similarly flat, semi-empty section of his own country, may provide at least one clue -- and returned repeatedly over the next decade and a half, gathering experiences and ideas until he had enough material for this book. He's a writer of the New Yorker school, which means careful details and meticulous fact-checking -- though he does make himself the center of this story in a way that would have been anathema in the New Yorker a generation ago. (Though, here, he is the story: Travels in Siberia is about how this one guy finds Siberia and what happens to him there.)

Travels in Siberia is a fine modern travel book, and Frazier covers a lot of ground here, with one major cross-country road trip and several shorter visits. "Shorter" is relative, here -- one of those short trips has a journey of thousands of miles by rail and another sees him poking around Alaska...or, at least, the bits of it where you can see Russia from the windows. If you've ever wondered what's out there -- and Siberia is the greatest collection of "out there" that the world has to offer -- Travels in Siberia is a wonderful book to immerse yourself in.

1 comment:

vakantiehuis mallorca said...

This book seems to be a good one on "Travel in Siberia"....The post by the author seems to be interesting....I never been to Siberia but have the dream to visit it in my life....

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