I love weird, random, quirky destination-stories. Actually, I pretty much love weird, random, quirky stories of any kind. But when they’re to unusual places (real or imaginary), I’m doubly-curious. It takes a certain kind of skill to make places that are so far out of the ordinary, so beyond the experience of everyday life, into something the reader can really feel a part of and experience. To keep this journey from feeling flat or second-hand is, to me, what the craft of writing really entails. If you can transport your readers into your world – be it the world of oil sands fields in Alberta, Canada, or of the polluted Ganges, or of the Pacific Ocean’s Garbage Patch – and make him/her see, smell, and feel your experience, well, I think you’ve mastered your craft.
Andrew Blackwell paints a nice picture in Visit Sunny Chernobyl, but ultimately, his was not the craft for me.
The premise is a great one. Blackwell’s voice is snarky and educational in turns – a blend I love and respond well too. The destinations were unusual and the narratives sprinkled with fun facts, tongue-in-cheek observations, and a lot of enthusiasm. But somehow the book still fell a little flat for me.
It is entirely possible that this is due to my lack of knowledge and/or interest in the major environmental issues of our day. Perhaps if Blackwell had been a tish more liberal with the snark, I would have had an easier time with this one. His voice is a spot-on blend of sarcasm, cynicism, and unbridled joy in the ridiculousness of the world that resonates with me beautifully – but only when he is partaking in it instead of simply relaying information. I would have enjoyed a bit more of him in this book, and a bit less Environmental Studies 101. That’s not to say his writing of the latter is poor or problematic, it’s just not my cup of tea.
A former corporate attorney and government relations/health policy executive, Jill-Elizabeth walked away from that world (well, skipped actually) and toward a more literary life (equally challenging, but infinitely more enjoyable). If you enjoyed this review, please visit her at Jill-Elizabeth.com, the official home of All Things Jill-Elizabeth – that is, all of the teehees, musings, rants, book reviews, writing exercises, and witticisms of her burgeoning writing career.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Wunderkind PR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.