Travel writing is always so deliciously descriptive. It takes the reader on a journey to faraway lands and deep into the culture and history of a place without ever leaving home. Through the words of the writer, we can experience the sights, sounds, flavors, and emotions of a place. It’s a powerful way to transport the reader to another world.
I was sitting down with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood recently, my first time reading it, and some of the language struck me. This is how it opens:
“The Village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.” Some seventy miles east of the Colorado border, the countryside, with its hard blue skies and desert-clear air, has an atmosphere that is rather more Far West than Middle West. The local accent is barbed with a prairie twang, a ranch-hand nasalness, and the men, many of them, wear narrow frontier trousers, Stetsons, and high-heeled boots with pointed toes. The land is flad, and the views are awesomely extensive; horses, herds of cattle, a while cluster of grain elevators rising as gracefully as Greek temples are visible long before a traveler reaches them.”
Obviously, In Cold Blood isn’t a travel memoir. But Capote paints a marvelous picture of the area. And travel writing often uses such descriptions to visceral effect. Travel writing often uses vivid descriptions to create a sense of place, to bring readers to the area so they can experience it for themselves.