Travel Story Hall of Fame: ‘The Lonely Planet Guide to My Apartment’
Travel Blog • Eva Holland • 02.14.12 | 11:57 AM ET
Today we introduce the Travel Story Hall of Fame, an occasional series in which we honor the best in travel writing new and old.
Title: The Lonely Planet Guide to My Apartment
Author: Jonathan Stern
Publication: The New Yorker
Date: April 24, 2006
Nomination Speech: I first read Jonathan Stern’s Shouts and Murmurs piece in “The Best American Travel Writing 2007,” but its tone, its language and sub-heads were all weirdly familiar, as though I’d read the story before. That eerie sense of recognition is a sure sign of a well-executed satire.
Meet the strange land of My Apartment, whose “vast expanse of unfurnished space can be daunting at first, and its population of one difficult to communicate with.” Under “Places to Eat,” Stern notes that “tourists often flock to the salvaged wooden telephone-cable spool in front of the TV as a convenient dining spot. More adventurous eaters might try standing over the sink, as the locals do. If you’re willing to venture off the beaten track, there’s balancing your plate on the arm of the couch or using the toilet lid as a makeshift table.”
Years later, “The Lonely Planet Guide to My Apartment” remains one of the funniest pieces of travel writing I’ve ever read.
My Apartment’s vast expanse of unfurnished space can be daunting at first, and its population of one difficult to communicate with. After going through customs, you’ll see a large area with a couch to the left. Much of My Apartment’s “television viewing” occurs here, as does the very occasional making out with a girl (see “Festivals”). To the north is the food district, with its colorful cereal boxes and antojitos, or “little whims.”