Great Railway BazaarWhen you think “travel writer,” you usually think of someone like Paul Theroux or  Bruce Chatwin. Not exactly  laugh riots. In fact, they can be pretty grim. The more painful the journey and annoying their companions, the more they like it. The Great Railway Bazaar was Theroux’s first travel book  and became a classic of the genre. He celebrates the hardship and minimizes the joy of travel – increasingly so, the further he goes along the Orient Express.

Theroux does excel in describing the people he meets  in Europe and Asia – London to  Afghanistan to  India to Japan to Siberia. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star was a sequel of sorts, in which Theroux travels by train again to China, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union and sees the incredible changes 30 years have wrought.

Other masters of the travelogue as endurance test are Bruce Chatwin (In Patagonia) and Jonathan Raban. A British writer, Raban writes about the Mississippi River in Old Glory. (He irritated many locally with his depiction of Davenport).

So, if you find yourself in the midst of a very bad vacation, start writing – you may as well get something constructive out of it!