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Foreign Correspondences: A Traveler's Tales

james hörner

when I began reading Foreign Correspondences: A Traveler's Tales, I think my brain fixated on the chance to read some interesting stories brought back from places afar. After all, how can I resist the opportunity to travel vicariously through the words of experienced writers? These adventurous continent hoppers save me significant air-fare and allow me to pay off my student loan, all the while permitting me to sit back with a tea, travelling to distant lands, learning exciting anecdotes regarding cultures still foreign to my senses.

Foreign Correspondences book cover Perhaps it was these unfortunate expectations which led me to feel a little ripped off initially. Krueger informed me that these remembrances would be a means by which she would explore her family history. Specifically, Krueger ponders their immigrant experiences in light of her own feelings as an outsider in other cultures.

As I grew more comfortable with the direction Krueger was taking me, I began to accept that while this book was not what I had mistakenly expected, it was still fairly well written. (It also acted to remind me that I should not have any kind of expectations when reading books for review.)

The writing felt strained or muddled at times, and I'm not entirely sure if the intended theme was explored effectively. I am tempted to say that this book is already distant in my mind, having not made a definitive impression upon my memory. However, this is not fair - how many books are really that memorable?

Ultimately, Krueger's experiences are at times both fascinating and insightful. She is conscious of her role as an outsider, and is aware of the new understanding she has of her family's immigrant experiences. While this weaving together of travel and introspection is valid and obviously vital for Krueger, I'm not sure that it entirely works.

I worry, though, that the only reason I have for this criticism is my desire to read top-notch travel literature. However, even when I don my Hat of Objectivity, I fear I still cannot rave about this book. I can encourage others to give it a shot, nonetheless. If the following quote from Foreign Correspondences makes you pause and reflect, then this book is for you:

We're all writing out lives, I think. That's what traveling is, and what writing is: an act of self-creation. I think that when we travel, we're creating ourselves, calling ourselves into being out of a confusing mass of impulses and impressions, just as the Ancestors created Time and Space by stopping one day in their ceaseless journey to ask, Why don't we sleep here tonight?

published by key porter books
ISBN 1-55263-181-2

james hörner edits canadian content.

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