Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer by Rolf Potts is a compilation of twenty short stories that Rolf Potts had published in print or in online form. At the end of each short story he has included endnotes, he explains that the endnotes describe, “how I chose to arrange the facts; what was taken out, and why; what happened just before or after the events described in the story.” The short stories fall into one of four categories: Adventures and Misadventures; I’m a Tourist, You’re a Tourist; The Dubious Thrill of Press Trips; or People You Don’t Forget. There is also one last section that is titled, “Tutorial.”
Books that consist of short stories are not typically my favorite types of books. Usually because there are only a handful of really good stories that I enjoyed. That being said, I liked this book but not necessarily for the short stories. While I only found myself thinking that I really didn’t care for a story only once; I did find myself thinking that a few of the short stories were getting a bit long and I would find myself counting how many more pages were left in that particular story.
What I really enjoyed about this book were the endnotes. The endnotes were super informative and gave the reader an insight into how a professional travel writer puts together a piece for print. Rolf Potts explains the things that he leaves out, what he decides to include and why. It gives the reader an inside look into how travel writing is produced; it gives the reader the thought-process that is needed to be able to put together a successful, interesting piece.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. I thought, for the most part, the short stories were interesting and kept my attention well (there were only a couple of exceptions). The endnotes were an invaluable piece of information for those that may be interested in trying their hand at travel writing. It gives a new perspective on how to think about what you are writing and what you should and shouldn’t include.