Christine Strelan - Between the Covers
Heaven On Earth
Edited by Robert Andreas
100 Places to See in Your Lifetime declares this books sub-title, and as Ive only made 13, Ill need either a real job or another lifetime if Im going to rack up a decent score. Unsurprisingly for a Life publication, 20 of them are in the US, but this includes Alaska and Hawaii, and its pretty hard to argue with the Grand Canyon.
The perverse pleasure of such lists is our private critiques of them. We acclaim the inclusion of our favourites and protest omissions. I for one want to know why Goolmangar wasnt included. All of us could compile our own subjective 100, but then, we dont have Lifes outstanding photographers on hand. And the pictures are the point here; this is an unashamed coffee table book and the visuals are arresting. The photos of places like Waimea Canyon, on Kauai, or the blue ice at Torres del Paine are breathtaking. The stone city of Petra and Registan Square in Samarkand look wonderfully mysterious and alluring. Even the obvious choices are depicted in less obvious ways; Uluru is shown from above and the Taj Mahal is a ghostly blue in the moonlight.
The slim text is generally banal and full of tourist brochure cliches. Words like fetching, charming and delightful occur with annoying frequency. Surely they couldve come up with something better than One does not soon forget the Amazon or the awesome aura of the Colosseum is forever. The Great Pyramid apparently imparts a serene sense of timelessness to any viewer. Not this little black duck! It fills me with rabid curiosity, theories of aliens, and questions like: What is inside that final, unopened chamber filled with radioactive sand? Mount Kilimanjaro, on the other hand, makes the Rift Valley below tingle with mystique and adventure, which is exactly what the giraffe in the foreground is doing: tingling. Look at the hairs on its neck.
Despite the texts limitations, this book is a lot of fun. My kids have already planned their first travel destinations, and everyone whos seen it so far has grabbed it, examined it thoroughly, and argued with the selection.
Books reviewed are available at the Book Warehouse in Keen Street, Lismore, and at Lismore Shopping Square.