April 3, 2008

Mini-review: "Trip," by Mick MacO

(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. Click here for the full list.)

Trip, by Mick MacO
Trip (2008)
By Mick MacO
Self-published / ISBN: 978-1-84799-434-9

So before anything else, let me get a big confession out of the way -- I am an obsessive fan of confessional travelogues, and can enjoy a seemingly endless amount of them despite most sharing a very common storyline. Which I guess is the second thing we should plainly admit right away, that most confessional travelogues follow a very common and well-known storyline: person goes on holiday, person notices things about a new culture that profoundly affect them, person realizes they're being affected because their own life or culture is missing these things, person goes home wiser both about themselves and the world around them, usually with some drunkenness and sex and getting lost and going a little crazy thrown in for good measure. It's an old story for sure, but still a great one that can be enjoyed again and again; and more importantly, it's one of those stories that so many of us know by heart, yet always affects us so profoundly when it actually happens to us too.

Take for example the slim and entertaining Trip, by an Irish graphic designer currently living in Germany who goes by the name "Mick MacO" (in that apparently his original Gaelic name is too hard to most people to spell or pronounce correctly); it is a record of his own first international backpacking holiday, done back in the 1990s when he was in his twenties, that ultimately follows pretty much the same plotline that I just detailed above. So why is it such a delightful book anyway? Well, in my opinion, for the same reason that so many other confessional travelogues are so delightful; because it's a heartfelt, sincere, honest, well-written book, one that captures the legitimate excitement inherent in being on the road and discovering new things about yourself, that sorta nervy nausea so many of us get while traveling and literally not knowing what's coming around each next new corner. Although MacO makes no terribly original insights in Trip, he certainly puts together a nice package of it all, including a plethora of photos in the paper version of the book as well as a very slick and nice website; that alone justifies its existence and makes it worth checking out, much less the fact that some people will be surprisingly impressed by it as well.

In fact, that might be the most fascinating thing about Trip of all, is the simple circumstances behind its existence; even MacO admits in the introduction that he mostly wrote it for personal reasons, that he does not consider himself a full-time writer at all, and that the main purpose of the manuscript existing is to help explain that year of his life to his current wife, who didn't meet him until years after the trip took place. I love the fact that we live in an age where such a simple motivation can result in such a professional-looking book, one available for anyone on the planet to purchase and have shipped with just the click of a mouse. It assures that Trip remains not just a one-off heavily decorated scrapbook on the shelf of someone's living room, as so many confessional travelogues in the past have been, but that the story gets into the hands of the several hundred people who would most enjoy having this story in their hands, MacO's friends and co-workers and even strangers who just happen to love well-done travel stories (and especially stories about freaking out in Europe, a subject I'm admittedly a sucker for). I love that we live in an age like that, where such a thing is not only possible but is actually happening on a daily basis; I love that I get to feature books like this at CCLaP on a regular basis, and help make it easier for MacO's audience to actually find books of this type that they're looking for. Like many of the self-published books featured here, Trip is for a smaller audience only, but is certainly worth your time if you fall in this smaller audience yourself.

Out of 10: 7.9

Filed by Jason Pettus at 1:31 PM, April 3, 2008. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Nonfiction | Reviews |