Title: Travels in the Time of Trump
Author: Paula DiPerna
Genre: Nonfiction / Political / Travel Writing
This work explores the author’s journeys before and after the election of President Trump, providing a heartfelt argument as to how Americans can survive the election of one she considers to be a “Loose Cannon President.”
Starting with her canvassing work in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and continuing through her journeys abroad to South Africa, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Thailand, and China, the work is as much about the author’s emotional landscape as the physical one she experiences on her travels. Thus, the travel writing is less about the variety of people and cultures she visits and more about how these people have responded to the economic pressures of the current age.
The author went overseas looking for solace after the election results, and she uses that time to explore options of “resistance.” She is devoted to democracy but she feels that America had made a serious misstep with the 2016 presidential elections. As she goes around the world, she searches for a template to follow in forging ahead during the next four years (though she suspects it could last longer than that).
The work also recounts her mother’s political zeal, forged in the time of re-electing President Eisenhower, her own candidacy-attempt to the United States Congress, and her more-recent experiences in trying to reach a variety of elected officials to share her concerns and interests. She shares how she fielded questions from those around the world who wanted to know “Why Trump?” and how the election changed her own perception of being an American abroad.
The narration manages to be surprisingly earnest without being overly-political. Her half-serious “Declaration of Re-call,” where she lists off the reasons the country should replace President Trump, follows the style and manner of the Declaration of Independence,” and her closing remarks combine humor with a mild call-to-action.
However, the account could leave readers with only one side of the story. Just as her travels don’t explore the world around her save as a framework for her thoughts, so her discussions of politics give readers only the most basic summary of the facts. The work seems to be written not for the sake of helping the reader see the places and politics for themselves, but to help the reader see what she sees and feel what she feels.
The journey is emotionally experiential, and the descriptions she does provide let readers slip into step alongside her, seeing the struggling communities in Scranton and the elegant hotels in China, the Apartheid Museum in South Africa and the Aland Islands as though they, too, are with her.
Beautifully crafted and emotionally honest, this work will be enjoyed by those who like their travel writing spiced with politics and strongly influenced by the emotional lens of the writer. She seamlessly weaves together countries and perspectives into a patchwork understanding of life that is unique and thought-provoking. Even those who disagree with the author on politics can be encouraged by her examination of the resiliency of humanity and the emotional, political, and economic bravery that can be found around the world.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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