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|CARLY'S CORNER BOOK REVIEWS|
Traveling By Misadventure:
A Review of Sand in My Bra, Whose Panties are These? The Thong Also Rises, and What Color is Your Jockstrap?, published by Travelers’ Tales
By Carly Blatt
As nearly any seasoned traveler will tell you, a trip isn’t complete unless you end up with a journal full of cringe-worthy stories to share with friends – and any strangers who care to listen – upon your return.
To feed the voracious appetite readers have for the humorous and the ridiculous, Travelers’ Tales developed a collection of four books jam-packed with the perfect mixture of bite-sized, side-splitting travel stories guaranteed to make you long for life on the road. The series, often affectionately called the "Underwear Empire", comprises three books penned by women authors: Sand in My Bra, Whose Panties are These? and The Thong Also Rises, followed by What Color is Your Jockstrap?, which includes anecdotes by both genders.
The series covers the gamut of travel experiences – from funnywoman Ellen DeGeneres analyzing seemingly simple details like seat position that we obsess about during flights in "The Plane Truth" (Sand in My Bra) to Janna Cawrse describing the art of travelers helping soothe the sea urchin quill-embedded foot of a friend in "Pissing on Dave’s Foot" (What Color is Your Jockstrap?)
Bizarre stories often make the best stories. Particularly those wacky experiences that you couldn’t – and wouldn’t – recreate if you tried. Take Sean Presant’s "Little Fish that Eat You" (Jockstrap) experience. Presant decides to journey to a place in Turkey where fish do exactly what the title suggests to the dead skin of people who dare to put their bodies at their mercy. Definitely not the kind of experience typically suggested as a Top 10 Pick of the Week – but that’s what makes it great. And Presant’s hilarious realization at the end of the story will make you realize that, sometimes, the bizarre might not necessarily be the best for your health.
Pain is another staple of far too many travel experiences. Whatever ache or sickness you’ve been managing to squelch will no doubt reappear once you’re away from your home, your doctor and any traditional medicine with which you’re familiar. In Ayun Halliday’s "Fruit Bats and Healers" (Panties), the writer’s old knee injury decides to return with a vengeance when she slips down a muddy gorge in Indonesia. When a friendly Australian brings an "Islamic holy man who knows a thing or two about bones" to help, Halliday realizes she must go without an orthopedist and put her faith in the kind-hearted bonesetter.
The series’ editor Jennifer L. Leo proves she can write humor just as well as she can edit it in her "A Prude in Patpong" (Sand) piece about a particularly unusual game of darts – among other sports – she witnesses at a sex show in Thailand. After learning that she and a friend have never experienced Patpong, fellow travelers bring them out for a night full of balloon-popping and creative cigarette-smoking that will leave readers speechless.
Vagabonder Rolf Potts brings his special blend of wit to the series in "Signs of Confusion", an amusing recount of the myriad of incorrectly translated signs and sayings travelers encounter during their journeys. It’ll make you think twice before chancing getting a t-shirt or tattoo featuring a Chinese character you don’t understand– after all, if a translator in Mexico can change "Got Milk?" to "Are you Lactating?", are you willing to risk wearing a possible mistranslation?
Even though you might not want to necessarily experience what each of the books’ contributors have gone through, you’ll definitely want to live vicariously through them by reading their tales. The books are each quick, fun reads – and can be read in any order since each tale is self-contained. And of course, they’re instant conversation starters – how can anyone walking by resist wondering what a book with jockstrap or thong in its title is about?
All four books are published by Travelers’ Tales and edited by Jennifer L. Leo.
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New York-based freelance writer Carly Blatt has extensively traveled, studied and worked abroad, covering 23 countries on five continents. Her travel adventures include swimming in Antarctica, bungy jumping in New Zealand, paragliding in the Alps, caving in Belize, mountain boarding in Colorado, camping with locals in the Australian Outback, and helping confused-looking tourists find their way in Manhattan.
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