“Meet the Woody Allen of travel writers.”

woodyallenNow, you’d think with a line like that the review of “The Turk Who Loved Apples” in The Jewish Herald-Voice (“Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast’s Jewish Community Newspaper Since 1908”) would be wholly positive, or at least would understand the comedic, dramatic, and therapeutic power of kvetching. Well, not exactly: For most of the review, the critic bounces between summarizing each chapter and quoting from the book, but when it comes to right down to it, this critic just doesn’t want to hear what I have to say:

If you pick up the book to read about how to travel cheaply, forget about it! Gross writes on how to confront, ethically and morally, the reality of third-world poverty. I confront that reality every day in my neighborhood. I don’t need “The Frugal Traveler’s” advice.

Are things really that bad in Houston and the Gulf Coast? Well, there’s also this, referring to both myself and James Lasdun:

Whine whine moan moan, goes another travel writer. Don’t envy us travel writers, because real travel (as opposed to tourism) is hard work.

This isn’t really that big of a deal. Honestly, I’ve been waiting for a review like this—one that sees my attempts to make sense of the complexities of travel, and travel writing, as the unnecessary complaints of a privileged brat. Which it is, of course! I’m very lucky to have been able to travel the world, and even to me it feels unseemly to “whine” about it.

But then why that Woody Allen comparison? Cuz that’s a great line, the kind I feel like I should include over on my What People Are Saying page, the kind that suggests the critic understands The Turk‘s seriocomic undertones. But I guess not.

In any case, I’ll leave you with a quote from the Woody Allen of Woody Allens, one that feels especially relevant to my book: “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering—and it’s all over much too soon.”