The White Mary

With all the talk about “staycations” (ugh! If we can’t travel, can’t we at least have a better term?), you’ve got to wonder how the phenomenon affects books. We hear that local travel books are now selling well.

But for the least expensive staycation, many advocate staying home to read. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently recommended a list of books for just this purpose. As good as the titles are on the list (including Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side), they don’t exactly offer what a vacation is supposed to — relaxation and getting away from it all.

Here’s my suggestion; how about a display of books about the horrors of travel? After all, if you can’t travel, what’s more invigorating than reading about the terrible experiences of others?

On one side, there’s the humorous horrible travel tales, like Dave Berry’s Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need and my personal favorite (based on my own similar, personal experience) is Bill Bryson’s riotous description of his attempt at the Appalacian Trail in A Walk in the Woods. For those who were watching the Tour de France on TV last week, there’s French Revolutions, Tim Moore’s description of trying to cycle the route with absolutely no prior training.

And then there’s the truly scary experiences. Kira Salak, whose forthcoming novel White Mary is already beginning to build buzz, has written about being the first woman to cross Papua New Guinea in 2001 in Four Corners (which was the New York Times Notable Travel Book of the Year). In 2004, she wrote The Cruelest Journey, about her 600-mile solo journey on West Africa’s Niger River. National Geographic describes her as the ideal writer for the staycationer;

You probably wouldn’t want to take a trip with Kira Salak…It’s far better to follow Salak vicariously, through her books and articles… Her prose is luminous, often deeply personal, and transporting in the pan-sensory way that only the best travel writing can be.

Her new book, a work of fiction based closely on her own life, continues the tradition;

harrowing, minutely observed, and utterly mesmerizing, all rendered in Salak’s artfully unadorned, fast-paced prose

The Wall Street Journal interviewed her on Friday. Bloggers are already enthusing about White Mary, including librarian “Boston Bibliphile

The White Mary is absolutely gripping. From page one I was drawn right into Marika’s world. Whether she was in Congo, Papua New Guinea (PNG) or Boston, I felt like I was right there with her, watching her close-up, totally absorbed. 

Her 10-city book tour begins August 11. Check to see if she will be in your area.


The White Mary

Kira Salak

On order in most libraries I checked, with holds building in some areas. Only a few libraries have the audio on order.

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (August 5, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0805088474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088472
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, $102.25
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio, (August 8, 2008)
  • Reader: Joyce Bean
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423370468

One Response to “The White Mary”

  1. Marie Says:

    Thanks for the quotation & the link- I’m so flattered to be included!