The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown..
Reading alters the appearance of a book. Once it has been read, it never looks the same again, and people leave their individual imprint on a book they have read. Once of the pleasures of reading is seeing this alteration on the pages, and the way, by reading it, you have made the book yours.
Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Albert Camus, Graham Greene - they influenced my life to a profound extent.
A journey awakens all our old fears of danger and risk. Your life is on the line. You are living by your own resources; you have to find your own way and solve every problem on the road.
I loathe blogs when I look at them. Blogs look, to me, illiterate. They look hasty, like someone babbling.
A travel book is a book that puts you in the shoes of the traveler, and it's usually a book about having a very bad time; having a miserable time, even better.
I think I am typical in believing that the Peace Corps trained us brilliantly and then did little more except send us into the bush. It was not a bad way of running things.
Anything is possible on a train: a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night's sleep, and strangers' monologues framed like Russian short stories.
Extensive traveling induces a feeling of encapsulation, and travel, so broadening at first, contracts the mind.
Japan, Germany, and India seem to me to have serious writers, readers, and book buyers, but the Netherlands has struck me as the most robust literary culture in the world.
A novel captures essence that is not possible in any other form.
An island is a fixed and finite piece of geography, and usually the whole place has been carved up and claimed.
Africa is really a place for the wealthy traveler. It's got some nice hotels, but they're very expensive hotels. It doesn't really cater to the backpacker or to the overland traveler.
The appeal of travel books is also the sense that you are different, an outsider, almost like the Robinson Crusoe or Christopher Columbus notion of being the first person in a new place.
Many aspects of the writing life have changed since I published my first book, in the 1960s. It is more corporate, more driven by profits and marketing, and generally less congenial - but my day is the same: get out of bed, procrastinate, sit down at my desk, try to write something.
There are places that I've always wanted to go. First I went to Africa, and when I was there I realized there were places in Africa I really to wanted to visit: The Congo, West Africa, Mombassa. I wanted to see the deep, dark, outlandish places.
You may not know it but I'm no good at coping with all the attention in the luxury hotels I sometimes find myself in.
Movable type seemed magical to the monks who were illuminating manuscripts and copying texts. Certainly e-books seem magical to me.
There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment.
Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.