The Good Journey: Writing Your Travel Memoir
(Weeklong PM) - Mark Sundeen
It’s been said that in all of human experience there are only two stories: a man takes a trip, and a man is nailed to a cross. This workshop focuses on the former. Taking cues from Mark Twain and George Orwell, Joan Didion and Elizabeth Gilbert, we won’t be writing about Where to Stay and What to Eat, but mining our travels for personal revelation and aesthetic inspiration. After all, built into a good journey are the same elements—discovery and adventure, conflict and characters—that we love in a work of literature. Participants may choose to combine their personal narrative with an area of expertise or fascination, the way that recent travel memoirs like Michael Lewis’s Boomerang dramatizes the world’s economic collapse, or Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation explores American politics. We will read and critique one another’s submissions, as well as write new work.
Mark Sundeen - photo credit Isan Brant
first book landed in the publishing world in 2000 from a dusty trailer in the Utah desert. “A riotous, beautiful, totally original road novel masquerading as a travel book," wrote George Saunders of Car Camping. "Sundeen’s America, comprised of equal parts Gorgeous and Awful, absolutely shimmers with life. A brilliant and auspicious debut.” His second book The Making of Toro (Simon & Schuster, 2003) garnered comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson and David Sedaris. Of The Man Who Quit Money (Riverhead 2012) Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “This is a beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful book. I suspect I may find myself thinking about it every day for the rest of my life.” Sundeen's award-winning features and essays appear in the New York Times Magazine, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, McSweeney’s and The Believer. He holds degrees from Stanford and the University of Southern California, and has taught at the MFA writing programs at the University of New Mexico and Western Connecticut State University.