Reviewing Jonathan Raban’s Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings (Pantheon) in the New York Review of Books (January 20), Larry McMurtry concentrates on the act of saying good-bye. Raban, a skilled writer of travelogues and an adventurous traveler, tells his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Julia that he is leaving for 21 days. He reflects that to Julia it “could as well be 21 eternities”—words that will ring in the ears and sting the consciences of many who travel frequently, leaving their families behind.
“Traveling always entails infidelity. You do your best to mask the feeling of sly triumph that comes with turning your back on home and all it stands for; but disappearing into the crowd in the departure lounge, or stowing your bags in the car at dawn, you know you’re a rat. I was an experienced deserter, but never until now had I been squarely faced with my treachery,” Raban writes.