How To Travel Without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America

Restless. Aug. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9781632060556. pap. $15.99. TRAV
While on a 2009 book promotion tour through Latin America, Argentina-born novelist and poet Neuman kept a separate travel journal on his impressions of the 19 (mostly) capital cities of Central and South America during his brief visits there. His impressions are mostly cryptic statements and smatterings of esoteric poetry or prose. He does actually see things (more in Central than in South America), and when he does it is insightful. It would be easy to dismiss this somewhat odd book as the product of a literary smartypants who mistakes quips for actual content. But when the author discards the "not seeing" schtick and begins experiencing these historic places, the narrative picks up. For example, in the first part of his tour, when technically nothing happens, you're tempted to keep reading, to attempt to understand heady literary references such as: "To buy a head of lettuce has become for me an act of historical representation." And that is one of the more comprehendible ones.
VERDICT As literature, this work has legs; as travel writing, it's stuck in no-man's land.

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