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Eastward Ha!, S.J. Perelman, Touchstone, 1977/1983, ISBN 0-671-49250-0, $5.95

There’s only one thing worse than a new convert to science fiction–you know the type, 30 years old and just now reading Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land and Foundation for the first time and blathering on about it like they had just discovered God. No, there’s only one thing worse than such a person, and that’s a new convert to anything else. So let me confess this now and get it off my chest before I quit breathing–I’m in love with travel books. Oh, it may be an infatuation. I think of those radio dedications like “To John, we’ve only been together for a week, but I know that it’s love, and that we’ll be together for the rest of our lives.” Right now, however, it feels, smells, and tastes like love, so who am I to try and avoid the conclusion? Travel books, you say, you mean like Let’s Go: Europe 1990. By your very words you commit the unpardonable sin of not understanding just who my elusive new mistress is, a problem which I must remedy at once.

But I have to admit, like the new convert, that I don’t know much. What may seem wonderful and new to me, you may have had read to you on your mother’s lap. So be it. There are so many more of you out there that this can’t help but be. Instead, I’ll write this like I wish someone would have written to me about a year ago (or even earlier), and if it suffers for a lack of knowledge, well, then, I will cringe along with you when I reread it a few years hence. S.J. Perelman writes about travelling like the above was written about reading: a lot of style which attempts humor (some working, some not), telling you more about the writer and very little about the subject. I found it interesting, but you may not.

[Finished 12 March 1993]


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