DAVID QUAMMEN lives the life of a writer. He does not dream of writing, or traveling the world to satiate his hunger for raw experience. He does these things. In the ascent of his career at the turn of the century, Quammen was in the “midst of travels everywhichway,” which took him to Central Africa for National Geographic assignments, and all over Eurasia for a personal book project on big predators (published in 2003 as Monster of God).
I would fly to the Republic of the Congo or to Gabon and spend two weeks walking through the jungle with a crazed explorer named Mike Fay; fly back up to Paris and rest for two days, eating well and healing my feet; then fly to Romania for another spate of research on bears.
This is the preface to one of Quammen’s field journal entries he kept along the way. Sound more interesting than a book on big predators? It is. The full entry of his Romanian field research is exactly the type of story you’ll find in issues of Nowhere Mag, and it reads like the kind of candy you can’t get in today’s stores.
That’s exactly what Nowhere is going for. “I couldn’t believe how many writers I only dreamed of working with were instantly eager to publish with us,” says chief editor Porter Fox. He continued, “Ninety nine percent of travel writing is service oriented — we’re a place for the other one percent.”
The one percent he’s talking about is the long-form narrative storytelling that writers love to write, and love to love, but have rarely found a market for. The stories you’ll find in Nowhere are what the curious souls rounding the globe tend to write for themselves. They are fluid and raw, and more virtuous for every word spared than for any used.
The experience of Quammen’s unpolished voice on the “concrete catwalk” passing cave bear skulls “left just where they’ve lain (so we’re told) for 17,000 years,” could be a modern parallel to moments of A Moveable Feast, or the more recent Living to Tell the Tale. The strength of an unfiltered voice and a definitive sense of place hit home repeatedly. As in Quammen’s piece — and he has the pre-reqs to back it up — when do you not love a man who calls bullshit on his tour guide?
It’s like a return to the classic tales of the Greatest Generation — the story behind the story, with no editing. Check ’em out, and support their new launch in digital tablet form.