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Fauxscar Nominee: On the Road

January 8, 2013 in American literature, Classic Writers, Literary Movies, Travel, Travel Writers

A brief reflection on literature, and an even briefer one on the movie, On the Road.

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road captured the beat of a generation. It bottled the spirit of a time and intoxicated generations to come with the sweet, burning lust to wander. The story tells of a youth at odds with society and a society just beginning to redefine itself. Kerouac’s voice is heard clear through pages that read like they were written on a single script, beckoning to the young and restless to strap on their packs and hit the road. The novel has become an American passage and one of the first milestone-reads of most any literary traveler.

Walter Salles’ On the Road is said to pale in comparison to the novel it adapts. Unfortunately, I can’t say this with any surety because I still have not seen the movie. Funny to think that Kerouac’s home state would not have one theater with a showing, but maybe I was lucky. From the reviews I have read, it seems I’ve been saved from disappointment. Though most reviewers agree that Salles has stayed painstakingly true to the novel (he traced Kerouac’s footprints throughout the entire country with an old camcorder), the consensus is that he has failed to convey the voice and passion of Kerouac as he jitterbugs through the America of the 50’s.

It’s a shame too. It was always Kerouac’s intention to make the novel into a film. He even wrote Marlon Brando a letter asking him to play Dean Moriarty. Brando never responded and Kerouac never made the silver screen. Unfortunately, great literature is hardly ever successfully adapted to film, if only because being literature is exactly what makes it great.

Behind the Article: “On the Road” with Kat Clay

October 8, 2012 in Behind The Article, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, Travel Writers

Jack Kerouac display at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco. Photograph by Kat Clay

After reading about Kat Clay’s cross country road trip in our September 24th article, “Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck on the Californian Coast,”  we couldn’t wait to chat more with the author about her incredible experiences and how her literary predecessors paved the way for her own adventure.

Literary Traveler:  What was it about Jack Kerouac’s cross country journey that initially drew you in?

Kat Clay:  It’s the sense of freedom you get from his novels. There’s a grand sense that everything will work out, as if time stops for these young people to get on the road. I’ve always longed for that kind of freedom. The books are almost fearless; there’s no worry about getting mugged or losing your passport. Kerouac paints a picture of America that captures an era when people were making their own rules. The messages of his books still ring true today.

LT:  How has Highway One changed over the years?  What can travelers expect as they traverse it on road trips today?

KC:  Highway One has become busier, that’s for sure. When we drove it there was a lot of road work around Big Sur, which slowed the traffic down to 25 MPH. It’s not good for your sanity to drive around winding roads at a snail’s pace! And road trips themselves have changed – we now have GPS units to help instead of maps, but I think that’s a good thing. Many a marriage has been saved by the GPS. But there are still places on Highway One that haven’t changed at all. I remember stopping in at a general store when we got lost that was straight out of Jaws. There are still 1950s bungalows and weatherboard shacks. The state parks still have the same coastline. And the fog is most definitely still there.

LT:  While Kerouac’s words can’t replace the personal experience, literature seems to have a unique way of representing the magic of place.  If maps, as you so eloquently put it, “are statistics of natural beauty,” what is literature?

KC:  Good literature will always capture the feeling, the nostalgia and the wonder of a place. I could read a book and imagine a place completely different from how the author has described it, but still get the same sense that the author felt in that moment.

And good literature can somehow capture a part of you that can’t be expressed. It’s incredible when a writer connects with your soul, as if they are writing just for you and you alone. My writing instructor told me that every writer is looking for their perfect reader. I think when you discover your perfect writer you need to hold onto them!

LT:  You talk about the limited power of photographs.  Do you think writing helps to preserve aspects of a powerful experience where a camera may fail?

KC:  One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a photographer is to know when a moment is simply there to be enjoyed. Writing helps capture the spirit of place, which is infinitely more difficult to do in photography. While photography can capture the intricate details of a rock, writing can compare it to the texture of a mottled ostrich egg.

But for me, writing and photography are inextricable. On display in the art gallery in Jackson, Mississippi are some of Eudora Welty’s photographs – who knew she was a photographer as well as a writer? She inspired me, because I’ve always struggled with the thought that I might need to separate my two passions in order to have a career in one. Lewis Carroll was also a prolific photographer. I think the two art forms compliment each other perfectly; photography is a wonderful tool for documenting moments to inspire later writing. I use it as much as I would take notes.

LT:  What are some of the other highlights from your trip across America?  What was the most inspiring thing you saw or experienced during your travels?

KC:  Can I say the whole trip? Three months in the states is a long time! The southwest National Parks are incredible reminders of our own small place in the universe. I fell in love with Utah. I also got to celebrate many of the American holidays that we don’t have in Australia, like Halloween in New Orleans and Thanksgiving in New Jersey. One particular highlight was giving an impromptu rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire in a Louisiana Cajun Café.

The most inspiring moment: One of my husband’s relatives is a flight instructor and he took us up in his Cessna over New York City at night. I got to co-pilot the plane. It was incredible and also very moving to fly over the city.

If you’d like to read more, my husband and I documented our USA trip (and our continuing travels) on our travel website, Two Monkeys in a Tent.

LT:  Navigating roads once traveled by Kerouac and spending the night in a campground once frequented by Steinbeck seem like incredibly profound experiences.  How did the knowledge that you were following in the footsteps of these literary greats impact your experience?

KC:  Traveling to these places made the books more real for me. I think it’s important not just to follow the same paths as writers like Kerouac, but instead to pursue the same spirit. For me following in their footsteps wasn’t always a literal go-here-do-that, it was also a spiritual pursuit at emulating that great sense of freedom you get from being on the road in America.

With Steinbeck it was the opposite. A month after Highway One I was reading Travels With Charley in Search of America and I realized we’d stayed in the same place as Steinbeck. It was an epiphany, because I had felt the same as he did atop Fremont Peak. He also expressed a lot of my feelings about traveling in America.

LT:  It seems as though Kerouac acted as a muse of sorts in inciting your desire to drive across America and take your own journey.  What advice do you have for literary travelers looking to find their own travel inspiration?

KC:  Take inspiration from literature to blaze your own trails. The most important lesson I learned from Steinbeck and Kerouac was to break free of expectations.  Break free of the clutches of television and social media— because someone’s status update about being stuck in traffic seems pointless when you’ve just seen elks playing in the sunrise over Yellowstone Lake.

I met a lot of people in America who were amazed by our trip and wished they could do something similar, but there was always an excuse. My career won’t survive.  I don’t have the money . I’m going to do it when I’m old.  Do you know what the RV crowd told us repeatedly on our trip? You’re so lucky to do this when you’re young.

The same goes for writing. If you’ve ever longed to be a writer, you need to travel. Gather experiences— experiences are more valuable than any graduate school. I love reading stories of how writers became writers, and for many of them it was the experiences that made them. Try reading about James Ellroy’s road to publication, which involved stealing ladies panties and passing out in a public park (I don’t suggest you emulate this!). Travel is an investment in yourself and your person. You can’t put a price on that.

LT:  I think I have just found my travel inspiration in this interview! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us.  Readers, check out more from Kat Clay at her fabulous website and then power off your computer and find your own adventures.

Behind the Article: Catching the Travel Bug along the Mosquito Coast

September 11, 2012 in Behind The Article, central america, Travel Writers

After reading the September 3rd article, “Man’s Last Chance: Impressions of Central America,” we couldn’t wait to catch up with the author, journalist Klas Lundstrom, and get his thoughts on Theroux, traveling to Central America, and the best ways to experience the Mosquito Coast.  Sit back and enjoy, as we take a look “Behind the Article.”

Literary Traveler:  How did you first become interested in the landscape and culture of Central and South America?

Klas Lundstrom: I’ve been back and forth to Latin America for the past ten years now. The first time was in 2001, as a teenager writing an essay on Nicaraguan youth and their future prospects. What I saw then, and the people I met, changed my life forever. Since then, I’ve been in love with the continent, its people and fascinated by the political and social progress, and also have the luck to have been able to live and report from Central and South America on a regular basis.

LT: Our Literary Traveler book club selection for September is Ann Patchett’s 2011 novel, State of Wonder, which involves a pharmaceutical company doing research in the South American rainforest.  For writers, what do you think is the fascination with this area?

KL: I truly believe that any person who visits a rainforest understands that a rainforest is a shifting place, that it’s full of life and mysteries. For any writer, the rainforest is the perfect setting for any story; not only novels, but also pieces of reportages, travel stories, history books or plays. I guess that this fascination is a sort of colonial mindset that make us so thrilled by the rainforest; its people, its nature, its culture—we look upon it as the farthest away you can get from an urban environment. Although, my experience, after living and working in the Brazilian Amazon for six months, was that people were having the same thoughts and opinions on life and love, they were as worried about kids education as you are in, say, Stockholm, and they also return home from their jobs feeling exhausted and longing for a peaceful Sunday afternoon.

LT:  You refer to Theroux’s novel as playing a part in the “cultural contribution to the false picture of the world’s hidden pockets,” unintentionally as it may be.  Do you suppose there is any way to rectify this “false picture?”

KL:  Paul Theroux’s novel, The Mosquito Coast, is one of the best stories ever written about Western colonialism in theThird World. He challenges the notion that imperialism is a product of a church, a multinational company or henchmen of the C.I.A.—instead he tells you a story of a man who wants to improve the lives of farmers in the Honduran jungle.  Imperialism, in its most dangerous form, I think often can be found inside the best intentions, e.g. those Allie Fox arrives with to the Mosquito Coast. Just have a look at the growing micro finance market, often supported and funded by billionaires with a bad conscience. Instead of helping people to form a strong public sector they create a new market that often bring rural people even further away from public facilities.

LT:   Do you have any suggestions for further reading for those whose interest has been piqued by your insightful article?

KL:  For any person interested in Latin America, the Uruguyan writer Eduardo Galeano’s classic, Open Veins of Latin America, Joan Didion’s, Salvador, and Gabriel García Márquez’, News of a Kidnapping, are three great books that capture and explain the diversity and political complexity of the continent.

LT:  Do you think the tourism industry helps or hurts the worldview of places such as Tierra del Fuego?

KL:  That is totally up to each person.  Traveling now is such a normal thing to do for most Western people that, by now, we should be more aware of what the situation really looks like in places we visit. The tourism industry tends to forget the culture and society that it’s a part of, and in many ways depends on. It’s up to us if we want to visit places like Tierra del Fuego and return home with more than just an updated photo album on Facebook.

LT:  What advice would you give to literary travelers who do want to experience these regions for themselves?

KL:  To have the time to travel by road, take the bus, and have coffee, some yerba mate or a beer at the local pubs and cafes. It’s easy to say “skip the guide” if you speak Spanish, but sometimes a guide can be a helpful friend to you. In Central America, and especially along the Mosquito Coast, it’s wise to make friends with people who can show you places and tell you when and where to go. An absolute must in Patagonia is to visit Chile Chico and listen to the silence after the coal mines have shut down and left nothing but questions to an aging population.

*

To read more from Klas, check out his website.

 

Southern Hospitality: A Spring Road Trip through the Literary South

April 5, 2012 in American literature, Classic Literature, Southern Writers, Travel, Travel Writers

Painting by David BatesWith winter winding to a close, there is no better time to hop in the car, roll down the windows, and enjoy the warm breezes of spring as you venture off to places unknown.  From John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley to Jack Kerouac’s iconic On the Road, literature is ripe with tales of road trips, penned by authors sharing their experiences traveling the country.  With summer fast approaching, isn’t it time to imagine your own cross country adventure?

Over the years I’ve often planned hypothetical road trips for myself, drawing zigzagging lines with a Sharpie across maps of the United States, hopeful to take my own journey one day. But of all the lines I have drawn, my favorite always takes me a southern route from the North East down through Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. I believe one reason it’s my favorite route is because the South has been so vividly portrayed in literature. From the grandiose to the grotesque, Southern writers from Flannery O’Connor to Margaret Mitchell have painted brilliant portraits of the South in their works.

While I long to witness the natural beauty the South has to offer, see the Mississippi River and experience the splendor of the Louisiana bayou, I am sure even these urges have their root in my experience of Southern literature.  So it only makes sense that on any road trip through the Southern U.S., literary travelers pay homage to the literary greats that lived and wrote there. While New Orleans is well known for its associations with literature, from Tennessee Williams to Truman Capote, the South is brimming with less well-known but equally fascinating ways to connect with literary history.

In Atlanta, Georgia, let the wind take you in the direction of the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum on Peachtree Street.  While it took Mitchell almost a decade to finish the epic Gone with the Wind, you can tour the museum in a couple of hours, viewing her living space and a selection of her letters.  Travel to Atlanta this April 20-22nd, and receive free admission to the house during the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, an event that draws artists from around the world.

If you take your adventure to Savannah, visit the one-time residence of writer Flannery O’Connor.  While A Good Man is Hard to Find, the author’s childhood home, located on East Charlton Street, is not!  The house where the author resided from 1925-1938 contains some of the original furnishings.  For more O’Connor memorabilia continue on to Georgia College and State University, where there is a room dedicated to the famous alumnus that houses her writing desk and typewriter, among other artifacts including the author’s own personal library of more than 700 titles.

In Mississippi, honor William Faulkner with a visit to his Rowan Oak estate located in Oxford.  Originally built in 1844, the property is now owned by the University of Mississippi and visitors are admitted to view the space where Faulkner lived and worked for over thirty years.  The Oxford, MS Convention & Visitors Bureau offers a more extensive map of “Faulkner Country.” So download one here, and meander at your own pace through the stomping ground of this twentieth century great.

Like John Steinbeck wrote in Travels with Charley, “we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” The next stop is up to us.

 

Happy Key West Friday! Why Don't You Have A Drink?

November 4, 2011 in American literature, Classic Writers, Cocktails Inspired by Literature, Hemingway in Key West, Key West Travel, Recipes, Travel Writers

Hemingway drinks in the Plaza Del Gastillo, July 1959.


Today’s edition of Key West Friday is going to focus on something very near and dear to my own heart: literary cocktails. More specifically, I want to talk about one of the greatest mixologists of the 20th century—I’m speaking of Ernest Hemingway, of course—and his personal creations.

Though some may think of Hemingway as just another author you had to read in high school, overlooking Hemingway’s massive influence on American culture, masculinity, and writing would be a sorry mistake. Even if we leave aside his incredible literary talents, Hemingway was far more than simply a writer. He was a celebrity before we truly had celebrities; he single-handedly defined a generation in a way that few authors have since. While his perpetually disillusioned anti-heroes certainly played a role in capturing and symbolically creating the post-war American, (Hemingway’s case is, I happen to believe, one of those chicken-or-the-egg issues. Did he simply record what he saw, and capture the disenchanted drifting of many young men, or did his novels contribute to a certain image of the American identity that was beginning to coalesce? I imagine it was a bit of both) his actual person was just as instrumental in the process. He was, according to those that knew him, a force of nature.

He let loose his forceful personality during his time in Key West, where he lived for several years before relocating to Cuba. During this time, Hemingway did little to reel in his natural vivaciousness, and found himself what PBS’s Michael Palin describes as “Hemingway’s wild adventures:”

In a rain-splattered Key West street, he duked it out with Wallace Stevens after the poet had insulted him. In his beloved boat, Pilar, he battled man-sized fish (managing to shoot himself in both legs while trying to gaff one shark). Hemingway belted back drinks at Sloppy Joe’s, a speakeasy that went legal after Prohibition ended. While at his favorite watering hole, he befriended a young journalist named Martha Gellhorn, who traveled with him to Spain to cover the civil war there. Eventually, she would become his third wife.

As Palin makes clear, these episodes were often fueled by alcohol. But what kind of alcohol?

Here we have to turn to another source. According to the wonderful site Codex 99, in 1937, Hemingway created a drink that Charles Barker later included in his book The Gentleman’s Companion. Hemingway called it a “picker-upper” but it went down in history as “Death in the Gulf Stream.” Despite the morose name, the actual mix sounds rather delicious. For those of you interested in celebrating Key West Friday at home, here’s the recipe for Hemingway’s scary little cocktail:

2 oz. Lucas Bols Oude Genever
4 dashes Angostura
1 lime
Add crushed ice to a thin tumbler. Lace the ice with 4 dashes of Angostura and add the juice and crushed peel of 1 lime. Nearly fill the tumbler with Genever.

Of course, you can always go the traditional route and make yourself a mojito, but we think this Death sounds much more impressive. Happy drinking.

Joanne Harris Talks Writing, Food & Travel

October 30, 2011 in American literature, Contemporary Literature, Joanne Harris, Literary Movies, Queen Mary 2, Travel, Travel Writers

Courtesy of Joanne Harris/Leonardo Cendamo Photography

“Publication was never my initial objective,” admits British author Joanne Harris. “I kept writing because I liked it, and on some level I guess I had to do it… but when my first book was published, I was absolutely delighted. And better even than just being published, I was actually read by people,” she told Literary Traveler, laughing.

In case you are unfamiliar with Harris’ work (or deceived by her humble attitude), she is one of the most popular British writers living today. Though her most famous novel may well be Chocolat, which was made even more memorable by the film with Johnny Depp, she has also penned everything from young adult novels (Runemarks) to cookbooks (The French Kitchen).

Along with Bill Bryson, Joanne Harris was invited on board Cunard’s the Queen Mary 2 as part of their Literature & Liners series, where she spoke to the passengers about her two greatest passions: writing and food. After her book signing, we were able to sit down with Harris for a private interview—which we naturally recorded.

In this latest installment of Literary Traveler TV, Joanne Harris talks to our editors about the experience of traveling on such a grand old ship, how she became a writer, and perhaps most interestingly, her thoughts on the intersections between food, travel, and literature. “I think food has always been a popular theme in literature. I’ve been wrongly–but flatteringly—attributed this task of having brought food in fiction into popularity, but it’s not at all true. I think, with it’s link to travel, it’s also one of the most accessible ways to learn about another culture.”

Learn more about Joanne Harris and her literary musings by watching our video interview here. And for more Literary Traveler TV, please check out our YouTube channel.

Queen Mary 2: A Transatlantic Literary Tour

October 26, 2011 in Queen Mary 2, transportation, Travel, travel books, Travel Writers, Uncategorized

Courtesy of Cunard

Last summer, your editors at Literary Traveler were lucky enough to cross the Atlantic on the majestic and elegant Queen Mary 2. The week-long Transatlantic cruise offered most everything we overworked writers need—excellent food, plenty of rest and relaxation, and of course, a bit of literary stimulation.

The trip we attended on the grand old liner wasn’t your average cruise. Literary Traveler was invited to attend one of their Cunard Insights enrichment programs, the 2010 Literature and Liners trip, alongside influential authors like Kate Atkinson, John Berendt, Bill Bryson, and Joanne Harris. During our stay, we were able to attend Q&As with the authors, panel discussions, and book signings.

In order to better document the journey, we also brought our camera. To learn more about the Queen Mary 2—including details about its history, the various amenities available onboard, and the surprising attractions that draws thousands of passengers each year—take a look at our video on YouTube. And stay tuned for further details about the author discussions with Bill Bryson and Joanne Harris.

Behind The Article: Colin McPhee in Exotic Bali

March 21, 2011 in Behind The Article, travel to Asia, Travel Writers

Photo by Kerry Lee

Bali.  It’s beautiful, it’s exotic.  It’s probably your dream honeymoon (or at least mine).  A couple I’m friends with (who are well-traveled) have told me it’s “the most romantic place they’ve ever been.”  But what do we know about Bali, really?  That it’s near Australia.  Or maybe it’s an island.

There’s much more to Bali than you think.  For example, did you know film legend Charlie Chaplin lived there?  Writer Kerry Lee takes us literary travelers into the strange, exquisite world of Bali, which Colin McPhee wrote about in A House in Bali.  Lee’s article explores the music, storytelling and unique mix of people on the island.

Literary Traveler: You mention the women ex-pats of Bali.  Did you feel you fit into their group and the ex-pat community as a whole?

Kerry Lee: The women expats and I came from a pretty similar background, so in that respect I fit into the group.  Same education, same social and economic upbringing, though the women were from Europe, South Africa, as well as the United States.   The similarities ended there, however.  Though they lived in this foreign country, they clung to each other for most of their social life, and didn’t spend a lot of time with native Balinese.  Their children attended international schools, like The Green School.  Because foreigners cannot own property or business in Bali, each of them had married Indonesian men, and then started their various enterprises.  There was also a suggestion of “runaway” about them.  On their own, they had moved halfway around the world and started a whole new life, leaving friends and family behind.  While I am a traveler, it is always good to come home.  I didn’t get this feeling from them.

LT: How do you think a big personality like Charlie Chaplin would’ve fit in when he lived in Bali?

KL: Apparently Charlie was loved in Bali, though the Balinese hadn’t seen his films prior to his visit.  From what I have read, the crowds, especially children, loved him wherever he went.  They thought he was very funny!  An article in the New York Herald on June 12, 1932 said, “There were no mobs making frenzied efforts to see them (Chaplin and brother Syd), no newspaper reporters to ask if they liked this or that, and no cameramen attempting to get intimate portraits.”

Noel Coward was also Chaplin’s traveling companion, and he wrote this verse while they were there:

As I said this morning to Charlie,
There is far too much music in Bali.
And although as a place it’s entrancing,
There is also a thought too much dancing.
It appears that each Balinese native
From the womb to the tomb is creative,
And although the results are quite clever,
There is too much artistic endeavor.

Which leads to your next question …

LT: Bali is also known for its beautiful art, especially its wood carvings and paintings.  Did you immerse yourself in the art of Bali as you did with the music and oral literary tradition?

KL: The most incredible art museum in Bali is the Agung Rai Museum of Art (more commonly referred to as ARMA).  The museum grounds are immense, with perfectly coiffed gardens and in the morning, the museum is virtually empty.  The permanent collection includes works by such well-known artists as Ida Bagus Made, Walter Spies (another interesting story), and many other Indonesian artists.   Balinese art is extraordinarily beautiful and divine, and I spend quite a bit of time at this museum.  With an entrance fee of $2.50, one couldn’t go wrong.

LT: Is Balinese gamelan music visceral?  How did you feel hearing it?

KL: The gamelan is so outside of what music means or sounds like in the West.  Visceral would be a good way to describe it – I felt a little on edge listening to it, because it was impossible to know where the sounds were going. The music was always an accompaniment to a dance, a play, or a puppet show, and was an integral part of the show.   It set up a tension, an edgy anticipation, and always resulted in a surprise, both visual and auditory.

Please continue reading the article Colin McPhee’s Musical Life in Bali.

When the Killing's Done, T.C. Boyle

January 6, 2011 in American literature, Literary Books 2011, New release, travel books, Travel Writers

Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhen the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle is a highly anticipated novel for 2011.  But did you know the novel is place-oriented?  In other words, we consider it a “travel” or place-oriented work of fiction.

Boyle’s novel takes place in the North Channel Islands, off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.  The North Channel Islands are considered the US’s Galapagos Islands in regard to its precious, endangered wildlife.  Foreign animal species are brought to the island.  It is Alma, the biologist protagonist, who must kill off these invasive, foreign species who are killing the native species of the Islands.

The novel takes an in-depth look into wildlife preservation of the North Channel Islands.  Biology is at the forefront of the story, including descriptions of the island itself.

We hear When the Killing’s Done is literary fiction and descriptive prose at its best.  Even better, it incorporates a travel/place element.  It’s definitely on my reading list for 2011.  How about you?

Note: When the Killing’s Done is set to release on February 22, 2011.  Order your advance copy today with the Amazon Kindle!

* Here’s a great, LT article on biology entitled Edward Abbey Desert Solitaire in the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve.  Enjoy!

Travel Agents Vanished? A Pessimist's View of Next 10 Years

January 5, 2011 in announcements, Economy, Pop Culture, Travel Writers

Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhere did all those travel agents go?  Remember those friendly people who would sell you fabulous tours and excursions?  You would sit down, tell them what you want and voila! … a seven-day cruise to Mexico.  However, certain jobs, like travel agents, are dwindling, since we are our own travel agents with websites such as Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline.

This is just one point made by novelist Douglas Coupland.  His series of 45 tips entitled “A Radical Pessimist’s Guide to the Next 10 Years” was recently published in the Toronto Globe & Mail. The list is definitely radical.  Coupland says it’s all going to get worse, extreme weather patterns will take over, expect less, stupid people will be in charge and the middle class isn’t coming back.  Ouch.  That’s a lot of negativity for the next 10 years.

But he does speak some truths.  And in regard to extreme weather, won’t it be nice to travel to places that have consistent weather?  And what about all those long lost travel agents?  They’ll float into the abyss, never seen or heard from again.

Coupland’s list actually brings up a good point.  How do we stay positive for 2011 and beyond?  In a time of negativity, it’s hard to stay positive.  On the news, all we hear is “the recession is getting worse.”  We’re at a 10 percent unemployment rate.  Job creation seems nonexistent.  Where’s our FDR and where’s our change we were promised?

I once read an article about how the real entrepreneurs come out in tough economic times.  Creativity blossoms.  Hard work wins out.  That’s how I approached a tough 2010 and how I’ll approach 2011 and the next 10 years.  I look back to 2010, an arduous year financially, when I enjoyed literary travels to San Francisco and a luxurious cruise on the Queen Mary 2.  I’m in the final draft of my novel.  I interviewed Joanne Harris, international bestselling author of Chocolat.  And I met Bill Bryson.

And I already expect much more for 2011.  My goals are set much higher, including my financial ones.  Coupland may have his points, but for me, it’s all about positivity.

~ Jennifer, Network Editorial Director

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