The Other Worlds: Offbeat Adventures of a Curious Traveler – T. Mattson

Armchair traveling is my favorite kind of traveling. 

Boo, you lazy girl! 

Well, maybe. Consider this, though: I can see the whole world without spending a single cent, and without suffering any discomfort or mishap – mosquitos, you say? Lost luggage? Extreme temperatures? Unfriendly people? Yeah, nope. 

It’s not the same though! 

Good point. But there are books, like The Other Worlds: Offbeat Adventures of a Curious Traveler, that are able to offer me snapshots of life as vivid as the ones I’d witness in person. Postcards from Rio and a man collecting empty beer cans; memories of an old woman reminiscing the red sky over Toyama after it was bombed.

**

“None of it was meant to be: the stories and anecdotes that appear in this book, my travels to far-flung other worlds, being face-to-face with hundreds of strangers. Yet here we are, and there I’ve been, and somehow, strangers became friends.”

Meet Tom Mattson’s friends including Maribel, on a park bench in Havana; Braulio, a silver miner in Bolivia; Chema, a Guatemalan fisherman —- and dozens more around the world. Discover the stories of their lives, their experiences, and their histories, so different from your own.

Travel book
270 pages
Dudley Court Press, LLC
Goodreads

Cover: Pretty! Landscapes are among my favorite subjects – 75% in, I learn I’m looking at the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Western China, with the Ha Ba Snow Mountains as background.

Yay!

  • Tom Mattson closes the straps of his backpack, grabs his digital camera and takes us for a ride around the world. Cliché? Nah. Forget about the beaten path, dazzling capitals, monuments and museums, we’re going on an adventure here. And much like Bilbo, we have no clue about where Tom is going to lead us next. We start on a bench in Havana and go from there. I like it!
  • TOW is divided in sections – continents – but as I was saying, there is neither chronological nor geographical linearity in its pages. It’s a hop, skip, and jump across the globe, southward and northward, pinballing all over the place. It might sound confusing, but I promise it’s not. Every anecdote Tom is recounting is tied to a specific location and has your everyday person sharing the spotlight with him. He travels and meets farmers, miners, teachers, and students, each of them sharing a tiny part of his journey with him. To me, it feels like watching a scale, giving and taking, from food to gifts to advice. 
  • Good prose. There’s a lyricism in it that never fails to impress me, page after page. Irony, often self-directed, completes the package.
  • I was expecting more pictures, but I got some maps instead. The best one is maybe the Cuba map, where I could pinpoint the famous Comandancia.  

Nay!

  • Some parts of the text are missing. It happens at the beginning of a new page, and even if it’s only a line or two, it’s enough to make the whole paragraph unreadable. I’m not talking about a one-off; it’s a consistent thing and frankly, it’s annoying and also the main reason for the rating I’m going to give TOW. I can’t review a book if chunks of the text are missing. As always, I have no means to compare my e-book with a printed copy, so take this with a grain of salt.
  • This is a personal preference, I’m afraid – aka, add more salt. The switching between first and second pov throughout the whole book can get tiring.

TL;DR

3 stars on GR. I’m really curious to read about your next adventures, Tom!

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