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Solitary journeys

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Monica Byrne
Posted on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 10:39 am:   

I'm beginning work on a book that involves a long, solitary journey. So I'm trying to read books that involve the same thing - fiction or nonfiction - solitary or semi-solitary. Can anyone make recommendations?

(For examples, I've already read: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Four Corners by Kira Salak, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin...)
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 11:38 am:   

Try Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell was a brilliant exponent of the mythic understructure of hero's journey tales.

Matt Hughes
The Spiral Labyrinth
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Monday, August 06, 2007 - 10:01 pm:   

Just throwing out wild guesses here and don't know if they're what you're looking for:

Was it Sir Richard Burton who wrote of Stanley's journey to find Livingston in Africa?

Would Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea fit the criteria? Not such a long journey but might include some of the insights you're looking for.

Byrd's journey to the pole? Or other arctic or antarctic explorers? Mountain climbing accounts to Mt. Everest or Katmandu might fill the bill.

Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki, where he builds a papyrus boat and sails across the ocean wide all by his lonesome?
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Radu Eugen Romaniuc
Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 03:17 am:   

"Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki, where he builds a papyrus boat and sails across the ocean wide all by his lonesome?"

Thor H had a crew. It was one of my favourite childhood books.
Nansen wrote a book about journeys to the pole, good account although he was not on his own also.
Charles Dickens travel books are surprisingly enterteining, I think, there's also alot of historical information there.
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 12:34 pm:   

Thanks for the correction, Radu. In her original post, Monica also said "semi-solitary," so it may still qualify for what she had in mind, I don't know. Just thought I'd give it a shot. :-)

Best,
Dave
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Monica Byrne
Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 - 12:46 pm:   

Thanks, guys! Yes, I'm interested in narratives where the main character and her/his journey is the main focus - that is, it's not about teamwork or camaraderie. So that might well mean Kon Tiki, or it might not. Also, the more desolate the environs, the better. One of my favorite desolate-journey narratives, though short, is in Norman Rush's _Mating_, where the unnamed protagonist gets lost in the Kalahari. Hilarious and scary all at once.

In any case, thank you very much for the suggestions, and keep them coming!
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Jeremy Minton
Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 - 09:07 am:   

How about Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon"? Not one of King's best books IMO but it seems to meet the criteria OK.
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Ben Nance
Posted on Sunday, August 12, 2007 - 10:02 am:   

Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead is an excellent book about a fourteen-year-old boy's journey to find his father, then fighting with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The journey is both literal and metaphorical, and the boy's companion is a large black Hanoverian horse that often seems to know more about the world than the boy does. It's well worth reading for its rich descriptive language.

Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, also set during the Civil War, involves a man's journey from the battlefield of Petersburg to his home in the mountains of North Carolina.

Cormac McCarthy's The Road concerns the journey of a father and son across post-apocolyptic America.

Ben

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