What exactly is a travelogue? Or, asked differently, what is it not? A travelogue is not an advertisement that tries to sell specific destinations to its readers. A travelogue is not a guidebook with a list of the top 10 best restaurants or massage places. Rather, a travelogue is a creative narrative of someone’s experiences while traveling.
Travelogues focus on and celebrate the differences in traditions and customs around the world; very often, they’re conversational in tone and filled with funny details (see, for instance, Bill Bryson’s Stories from a Small Island). Good travelogues contain vivid descriptions and sensory details; unexpected, maybe even transformative experiences; and accounts of interactions with local people. Travelogues can also combine fictional and factual elements, as one of the greatest travel writers, Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989), beautifully demonstrated (e.g. the stories dealing with his trip to Australia, The Songlines). Fictional or non-fictional, funny or not – above all, a travelogue must tell a story.
The following two travelogues, written by creative writing students in the fall semester 2022/23, each tell a story. One takes place in the Ecuadorean rainforest, the other in Venice.
New Year’s Eve is practically upon us once again. Do you always feel guilty for being lazy and not ‘having fun’ on all the ‘important’ occasions? If so, then instead of cursing yourself or the universe for your loneliness, you can choose to be at peace. Instead of scrolling through the Instagram feeds of your friends, you can scroll through your own life history. Here is a recipe that will make the night one to remember, even if you’re all alone:
Vignettes are wonderful! Sometimes described as a slice of life, vignettes can be so short that they take away the fear of ending up with a white page. Unlike a short story, there’s no defined beginning, middle, or end with a cast of characters, multiple conflicts, and the ultimate resolution phase. Instead, the vignette’s impressionistic scenes focus on one moment or give a particular insight into one character, idea, or setting.
The Mexican American author Sandra Cisneros is the unchallenged queen of vignette writing, and her collection of 44 vignettes, (1984) is a must read.
Vladimir the Small, as history is sure to remember him, has pulled the iron curtain off the trash pile and ordered it rehung. His security blanket. Thirty years exposed to Western ideas of choice – enough of that. Obedience or destruction, enough choice for his people.
Ready to dive into unchartered waters? Then read Lena Hegemann’s graphic coming-of-age story, “Calm as the Ocean.” Her beautifully designed narrative takes us on a trip to New Zealand – on a trip that turns out to be one of self-discovery.