Road Reads - Rolf Potts Recounts Adventures in 'Marco Polo Didn't Go There'

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

WHAT: "Marco Polo Didn't Go There," by Rolf Potts (Travelers' Tales, $14.95)

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who like to look under the hood of a good book.

Potts, Internet raconteur and travel-advice sage, is the kind of guy you wish the pubs had more of: well traveled, generous with funny stories, eager to listen to yours. You feel envious that you weren't with him in Cairo to share the convivial squalor of a backpacker hotel, or at an Indian ashram to study Tantric sex, or even in the Libyan Desert, in the dark, out of water and lost.

And he's able to draw insights from all that without draining the fun out of the conversation -- difficult to carry off in a pub or a book. Although Potts's book combines adventure travel narratives with travel-writer inside baseball, he wisely slips the didactic bits into optional endnotes. It would be a shame to skip them, however, as his explanations for why he did or wrote something often are compelling in themselves. Hey, with luck, we could get drugged and robbed in Istanbul, too.

-- Jerry V. Haines

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