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March 9, 2009

Rolf’s latest articles and interviews (and penguin photos)

Having just returned home after traveling to Russia on assignment for Afar Magazine, I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about my newest essays and interviews. Here’s what I’ve been up to, writing-wise, in recent weeks:

  • One of my favorite essays of late was Che: The Ronald McDonald of Revolution, which I wrote for World Hum around the time Steven Soderbergh’s Che Guevara biopic was hitting movie screens. Since my essay takes issue with both those who adore Che and those who hate him, I expected a fair amount of angry comments when it debuted — though to date the reaction has been mostly positive (with the exception of one delightfully incoherent email from an Ivy League Marxist).
  • Another essay I expected to generate colorful comments was One Traveling Man’s Weak-Dollar Dating Survival Kit, a humorous take on international romance. Originally assigned to me by a female colleague, it was killed by a skittish male editor at Forbes and later picked up by World Hum. Fortunately, most readers, male and female, have taken it for what it is: a tongue-in-cheek riff on how travel can make you more attractive to the opposite sex (and how a little bit of culture-specific information can’t hurt your romantic odds).
  • Elsewhere, I recently wrote the lead essay for a special budget-travel issue of The Guardian. Entitled Around the world on shoestring, the essay uses my experiences with Cuban bagpipers and Prague youth hostels to illustrate how low-budget travel often yields the most interesting — and unexpected — experiences on the road.
  • My recent “Ask Rolf” columns at World Hum have included a Slumdog Millionaire-inspired take on dealing with child beggars overseas, an inauguration-inspired perspective on how an Obama presidency will affect American travelers, and a brief take on safe travel in the Middle East.
  • In late February I had the honor of being interviewed by 88-year-old public-radio legend Walt Bodine (who over the years has interviewed the likes of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr). This interview, which took place at Kansas City’s NPR affiliate, can be found online in mp3 form here.
  • Other recent interviews include Q&A exchanges with Nomadic Matt (which touches on how Vagabonding is being received six years after its publication), JetSetLife.tv (which touches on my recent forays into travel television), and a two-part interview with German journalist and “lifestyle design” specialist Markus Albers (Part I; Part II).
  • Though I haven’t added much to my online travel-photo galleries in recent years, I did recently add the Falklands Wildlife Gallery — a penguin-centric collection of photos I took in the Falkland Islands one year ago, while on assignment for National Geographic Traveler.
  • Finally, Travelers’ Tales just released The Best Travel Writing 2009, which includes an introduction by Tony Perrottet, a Cambodia essay by yours truly, and “Shopping for Dirndls,” which Jill Paris developed in my nonfiction writing workshop at the Paris American Academy last summer. Another of my 2008 Paris students, Haifa Mahabir, won a Solas Award in travel writing for her essay “A Writer in Paris: On the Road of Vision Seekers,” and former Vagablogger Stacey Tuel’s essay “My Mexican Housewife” landed in The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009. Congrats everyone!
  • For information on my upcoming events, including appearances at the University of Kansas, the Tucson Book Festival, the National Popular Culture Association conference (in New Orleans), and the Paris American Academy creative writing workshop, check out my Events page.

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