Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Written for the Road...

If you've ever wondered how a frat boy would fare in the Congo, then Thompson (Smile When You're Lying) has written the book for you. It's not just the Congo either; the former Maxim editor and extreme tourism expert also slogs across Mexico City, India and Disney World. Along the way, he encounters elephant penises, eight-year-old boxers and naked gurus who climb into the shower with him. Thompson's stated reason for his extreme tourism is that Americans have grown soft, and he must prove his travel writer toughness by going places he doesn't want to go. Thompson uses a Maxim-derived prose that features present-tense narration and unfortunate similes. Every page is disfigured by a phrase like Flat as the Kinshasa investment market, and brown as a turd.... Thompson poses as an iconoclast, but his critiques skew toward the obvious (he notes that there are two Indias, one rich and one poor, and that Disney runs a very tight ship). Sanctimonious liberals provide one target, as does soccer—not manly enough for Thompson, and they don't score enough goals. In the end, Thompson's observations and strained prose will wear thin on readers.

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