In Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club one of the UK's best-known travel writers shares his life on the road in 26 A-Z stories recording his very particular engagement with some highly eccentric characters. An eclectic range of destinations sees Paul Gogarty skiing in Algeria, deep sea fishing in Kenya and attending a George Formby ukulele convention in Blackpool. Often hilarious, these tales range from an end-of-the-line bachelor auction in Alaska to attending the Henley-on-Todd Regatta in the parched dustbowl of Alice Springs.
A passion for music is a thread running through several of the stories. In 'Caister Soul Weekender' Gogarty checks into an East Anglian static caravan site for three days of dance, Red Bull and camaraderie. After hanging out with country wannabes in Nashville and attending the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville his car breaks down at the very crossroads where bluesman Robert Johnson reputedly sold his soul to the devil in return for guitar mastery.
Nor is Gogarty afraid to sign up for the bizarre, whether visiting a homemade Stonehenge, taking an Arctic plunge protected only by swimming trunks, or learning the arcane art of healing and dowsing for hereditary diseases in Basingstoke.
This collection showcases the diversity and possibilities of travel writing. More than anything else these tales underline a fascination with people and an openness to experience the world in all its diversity.
Paul Gogarty has variously been chief travel writer at the Daily Telegraph, a regular BBC1 travel presenter, travel editor of various magazines and the author of five other books. He also lectures at the London School of Journalism and has written travel features for all the UK's national newspapers and innumerable magazines.