‘Many places can feel like nowhere: a desert, an isolated village, even the middle of a bustling, impersonal city. And then something happens: an adventure, a revelation, an experience that changes the whole landscape. The discovery that every place is the center of the world to somebody and has its own riches and wonders’.
Tales from Nowhere was my first Lonely Planet anthology; my book of choice for my own European adventures. It traveled with me in the door netting of my housemate’s camper van, nestled next to my Jungle Formula and paper packages of half eaten baguette, always in reach of my makeshift bed for our days driving south on D roads to the Verdon Gorge. 200 pages and some 643 miles later, I finished the collection, sat on a stranger’s bed, locked out of my house in the middle of the night and with sand still dusting my lap each time I moved my head. My own nowhere place. And a fitting finale for a collection so centered on the true nature of adventure.
Edited by Don George, the collection conglomerates 30 travel stories. Bound together under the expansive theme of nowhere, each tale takes us to a place so separate and yet so expressively relevant. Dazzlingly rich, but beautiful in their simplicity, modesty and innocent explorations of what it truly means to travel, these 30 stories wind from continent to continent, from the stretches of Icelandic wilderness to The Worst Country in the World, abstracting a sense of nowhere at each stop and illuminating the significance of our most (seemingly) arbitrary experiences. For me, this contrast is what made the book such a joy to read these past few weeks travelling south. Settling into each page, reading aloud to Nathan on the beach or by the light of my phone as we drove through the night to a mechanic in Troyes, I was transported from my own nowheres to the middle of the roads traveled by others. With these stories reverberating in my mind, I reminded myself again and again that the tiny mechanics shop, the squat toilet aires, watching the biggest great dane puppy I’ve ever seen in my life gallop across a service station car park at 6am, these nowheres were in those moments the center of my world. Those that made me wonder where is ‘nowhere’ when you are constantly ‘somewhere’.