Good travel books, like travel itself, open the door to new worlds. In the strongest works the author’s vision becomes our own, especially if his or her subject is a distant destination.
To me, it remains incomprehensible that a people who can design the Porsche 911 and sleek, white ice trains, who created the Bauhaus and speak at least three languages at birth, want to own twee Christmas figurines painted in gaudy colours, dress up in Bavarian lederhosen, and eat Haribo gummy bears.
The process of communication with the afterlife – more of an exchange than a conversation – has always fascinated me.
Berlin is all about volatility. Its identity is based not on stability but on change.
I don’t see the value of boringly reporting the cold facts.
To me, Berlin is as much a conceit as a reality. Why? Because the city is forever in the process of becoming, never being, and so lives more powerfully in the imagination.
The travel book is a convenient metaphor for life, with its optimistic beginning or departure, its determined striving, and its reflective conclusion. Journeys change travellers just as a good travel book can change readers.