Patrick Richardson - Reports from Beyond
(Ultima Thule Press)
The best travel writing is much more than just writing about travel, something this hugely experienced journeyman doesn’t seem to realise despite a lifetime of wanderlust. This glossy coffee table effort is subtitled ‘A Journey Through Life to Remote Places’ and details Patrick Richardson’s many far-flung trips, culled from 20 years of contributions to various broadsheet newspapers. But Reports from Beyond manages to be a lot less than the sum of its parts.
Great travel writing has a narrative, a purpose and some insight into the writer’s mindset, the places visited and the cultures encountered. This book manages to have precious little of that, making treks through East Yemen, Burma and the Ethiopian Highlands seem like banal, trudging itineraries, lists of travels and travails that merge into one big tedious slog. The world is an amazingly diverse and fascinating place. Sadly, Reports from Beyond fails to capture any of that.