Transported on words of good writers

BETTER THAN FICTION: True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers<br><b>Don George</b><br><i>Lonely PlanetBeginning this book is enticing: to travel to different parts of the world in the company of well-known writers.

It was put together by Don George, an award-winning writer and global travel editor for Lonely Planet.

He asked some of the planet's most acclaimed fiction writers to describe their most meaningful non-fictional journeys and the result is this collection of 32 very different travellers' tales.

No matter how far or how much you travel, the possibilities of seeing, hearing, experiencing, sights, sounds and happenings in all parts of the world is impossible.

The value of a book like this is the opportunity it gives you to get an extra, if small, insight into other cultures and countries, with the bonus of skilled writing to take you there. Many of these tales recall youthful wanderings to strange and uncomfortable places, where everyday dangers were expected.

In some cases anti-malarial drugs produced nightmarish mptoms to add to their discomfort. Some revisited surroundings remembered from childhood, with the disillusionment such visits often bring. My favourite travel stories usually involve humorous encounters with people, potential disasters narrowly averted, and any episodes which might have been hair-raising at the time, but make a marvellous story [if told well] in retrospect.

Most of the stories in this collection meet these criteria, although humour is in short supply. The one I found the most fun to read was of a month-long visit to the World Cup in Cape Town. And of the frightening ones, the most chilling and memorable was of Joyce Carol Oates' visit to San Quentin prison.

Patricia Thwaites is a retired schoolteacher.