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My my NYT book review has attracted at least one new sale as evidenced by this fan letter I received just today:

Dear Ms. Chiang,

I just finished reading your book "The Handsomest Man in Cuba" and I must comment that I have never read such egotistical drivel from a so-called travel writer. Your website says it all when it states "the self-indulgent writings" et al.

If you're going to write about your travel adventures and expect other people to read them and enjoy it, please write about the culture, the people and the history of the countries that you visit and your experience in relationship to these cultures so that you can convey to your readers a sense of the country.

All you did in "The Handsomest Man in Cuba" was basically bitch about everyone and everything in the most untrusting way.

I have been to Cuba several times and my experience was totally different than yours. Perhaps because I didn't think solely of myself the entire trip.

Get rid of that ego and selfishness and you might have something to report to your readers.



Hi Bjorn,
Thank you for writing. Yes, that ego and selfishness, that is certainly how I was ten years ago, and naive to boot. I wanted readers to see what a despicable excuse for humanity a traveler can be, no matter where they visit, and it looks like I succeeded. You clearly have a radically different opinion about Cuba and travel writing to share with readers - you too must write a book so people don't get a myopic view just by reading my account. Thank you again for taking the time.

Lynette Chiang


I've just been asked to become an 'expert blogger' for
Here is a link to my soapbox on that site:

So far, there's only 1 other blogger in my category - 'Work/Life' - a happily married father of five. I think it's neat that I can complement him by representing a largely ignored segment of the population: families of one. I'm not planning to be any less candid than this, my Galfromdownunder UNCUT blog, which has long been my silent cyber shoulder for pondering life, ranting mercilessly and the occasional uncontrollable sob (if you scroll back far enough). So I'm bracing myself for the inevitable slew of flak. Bring it on! And you're gonna be a long time dead ...


Anonymous said…
was that the same book i read?
joe hippo
Kate said…
I respect what Bjorn has to say, as everyone has the right to an opinion. And books can be interpreted in many ways.... That being said, I admit that my initial thought was similar to "joe hippo's" (see comment from 6/21/07). Is this person referring to The Handsomest Man in Cuba??? I enjoy Lynette's style of sharing her travels to the reader.
Bjorn, when you publish your experiences in Cuba, I will be happy to consider those accounts as well. Cheers
ken said…
I read Bjorn's vitriolic vivisection of "The Handsomest man" and it left me puzzled. Had he read the same book I and all the others had read? Or perhaps I had read (and Lived) it, with rose tinted glasses.
When My wife and I traveled Cuba, using Lynette's book as a guide, the experiences we had were OURS not Lynette's. Nevertheless there were similarities. Neither of our journeys were done in a vacuum. The countryside, music, food and people, are what constitute, 'the culture', and we, in our own way, experienced all it had to offer, in the short time we were there.
His quote, "please write about the culture, the people and the history of the countries that you visit and your experience in relationship to these cultures", was the most puzzling. Separating people and culture, is like taking the apple out of the pie. With history, that's best read in books.
Life is not a journey down a path festooned with flowering roses. Occasionally one is bound to come upon a pile of shit,,, and it's the shit that makes the roses bloom. Bjorn is just a thorn.

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