Miller read the book during a very rough winter in Chicago, when she was "desperate for even an imagined change of scenery." The book did the trick, and soon Miller was "whisked ... away to sunny Yunan, to the barracks of Benin, along white roads on the island of Chiloe, and on the hunt for a Yeti in Nepal and a wolf-boy in India."
Miller rightly describes Chatwin as "a dazzling writer and a charming guide ... [with a] fondness for unusual locales and improbable situations [that] is downright infectious." She also notes Chatwin's well-known tendency to mix fiction with his nonfiction, a trait "that didn’t seem to bother Chatwin, who made a living crossing arbitrary boundaries ..."
Miller's blog, Off the Shelf, is intended to help readers discover or rediscover great books, and Chatwin is the kind of author whose works are featured in the blog, the kind of writer who is likely to become an intimate favorite.
- In Patagonia (1977). This is the book that established Chatwin's reputation as a travel writer. Based on a six-month trip to Patagonia, the southernmost portion of South America, In Patagonia contains 97 short sections that have the author wandering from vivid descriptions of the landscape to interviews with colorful inhabitants to notes on the region’s eccentric history, which ranges from Darwin to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There have been claims that many of the conversations and characters were invented by Chatwin, but the book remains an enthralling evocation of a remote, wild part of the world.
- The Songlines (1987), a brilliantly written account of Chatwin's journey to the Australian Outback to learn firsthand about the legendary Aboriginal songlines, which represent the paths along which the world was created and is constantly being created. Chatwin has his own theories about the songlines, and his narrative reflects a growing appreciation of the nomadic drive in mankind. Again, the book is controversial in its combination of fiction and nonfiction and in what some reviewers perceived as its simplistic, colonialist views of European and Aboriginal Australians.
- On the Black Hill (1982) is a novel about identical twin brothers living in a farmhouse in the Black Mountains on the border of England and Wales. The novel won both the 1982 James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the 1982 Whitbread First Novel of the Year Award.
- The Viceroy of Ouidah (1980) is another Chatwin novel and tells of a Brazilian adventurer who becomes the master of the slave trade in a West African nation. The main character is loosely based on the life of a historical white Brazilian, Francisco Felix de Sousa.
- Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin is a collection of his personal correspondence from his schoolboy days to letters that he dictated on his death bed. As the New York Times reviewer notes, "One of the pleasures of a good book of letters is watching a voice develop and ripen over time, and Chatwin’s does. It grows lovelier, grainier, more confident, more wicked."
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