The Excursionist by J.D. Sumner

The Excursionist

The anti-Eat Pray Love – A darkly comic novel about travel, the need to visit as much of the planet as possible and the pressure to have meaningful experiences when you get there.A brilliant book for anyone who loves to or wants to travel, The Excursionist is both a celebration of visiting new places and a reminder that wherever you go you take yourself with you.Newly sing...

Title:The Excursionist
Author:
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Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback

The Excursionist Reviews

  • Joy Clark
    Feb 10, 2017

    Meh. I very seldom feel so apathetic about a book. There is almost always something that I find to either gush over or rant about, but not here. I was excited to read The Excursionist - travelogue, humorous - but came away without a strong impression one way or the other. Honestly, I had forgotten the beginning by the time I reached the end, and it took me less than a week to finish it. This is the story of an unknown narrator who is trying to visit the last three countries needed to enter the 1

    Meh. I very seldom feel so apathetic about a book. There is almost always something that I find to either gush over or rant about, but not here. I was excited to read The Excursionist - travelogue, humorous - but came away without a strong impression one way or the other. Honestly, I had forgotten the beginning by the time I reached the end, and it took me less than a week to finish it. This is the story of an unknown narrator who is trying to visit the last three countries needed to enter the 100-country club. He visits three fictional islands in the Indian Ocean and meets a variety of characters, none of whom are particularly interesting. Throughout, the narrator muses on his past, particularly his former fiance. There is a lot of "poor me, I'm traveling alone" with a few moments of self discovery. Overall, I'm lukewarm.

    Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC through NetGalley.

  • Bandit
    Jan 31, 2017

    I'm the first to review this novel on GR and I wish I had fonder things to say or type. I found it on Netgalley, was drawn in by the title, the cover, the summary. I adore travelogues, cheapest easier way to travel. The way this book was written it might have been fiction or a first person account, unknown author makes it all the more ambiguous. I might have preferred the latter. Anyway, as is it's a fairly pedestrian story of a crochety cranky not particularly nice man set to complete a mission

    I'm the first to review this novel on GR and I wish I had fonder things to say or type. I found it on Netgalley, was drawn in by the title, the cover, the summary. I adore travelogues, cheapest easier way to travel. The way this book was written it might have been fiction or a first person account, unknown author makes it all the more ambiguous. I might have preferred the latter. Anyway, as is it's a fairly pedestrian story of a crochety cranky not particularly nice man set to complete a mission of visiting 100 countries before his 45th birthday. The protagonist is a well to do Englishman whose fiancé had tragically disappeared during one of his trips. He travels to a remote place in the Indian ocean, but doesn't seem to derive any particular joy out of his exploits, it's more along the lines of putting checks on a list. Main problem is that he lacks the leading man charisma required to sustain a first person narrative and isn't quite as funny as he thinks, although there is a decent amount of humor to be found here. There is sort of a character arc as seen in the end, but not quite enough to care. This isn't the travelogue to send you dreaming of far away locales or exotic adventures. It's a decent enough book, especially for a first effort, it read very quickly, but it wasn't in any way extraordinary or exceptional and didn't really live up to its promise. Thanks Netgalley.

  • Stacey Bookerworm
    May 14, 2017

    The Excursionist is a really interesting read for anyone who loves to travel or is a frequent traveller. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    Read more of this review here:

  • Kirsty White
    May 08, 2017

    The blurb on Good reads says this is a darkly comic book. I'd like for someone to point out where those bits are because I couldn't find them. I nearly gave this book up after the first few chapters. I found the writing to not be very good. But I persevered and once we got past the bitter chapter about his ex-wife and the amount of money he earns as a stockbroker it settled down a bit more into what I wanted - a travel story.

    I think the biggest problem is Jack himself. I know he's suffering beca

    The blurb on Good reads says this is a darkly comic book. I'd like for someone to point out where those bits are because I couldn't find them. I nearly gave this book up after the first few chapters. I found the writing to not be very good. But I persevered and once we got past the bitter chapter about his ex-wife and the amount of money he earns as a stockbroker it settled down a bit more into what I wanted - a travel story.

    I think the biggest problem is Jack himself. I know he's suffering because his fiancee died but blimey he's miserable. It permeates throughout the whole book to the point I felt miserable reading it. I don;t want to get to the last few chapters before he discovers the meaning of life. I spent more time wishing he'd just go home if he hated traveling alone that much.

    I did like the descriptions of the islands. That's where I enjoy travel books. A chance to read about places I may never get to go to but also the descriptions of tourist places that you don't get in the brochures and guides as well as the non-touristy places. I enjoyed reading about the characters on the islands and how they made a living hawking tat the tourists buy and the horrid restaurants. I refuse to eat in the chains I can get in England when I travel so I enjoy hearing about the local cuisine and eateries.

    I think it's the tone that put me off, he really does sound so miserable but not in a 'my fiancee's dead' kinda way just someone that doesn't seem that much fun to be around even when she was alive. The book just didn't gel for me. Not one I'd like to read again sadly

    Free ARC on netgalley

  • Andreea Marin
    May 17, 2017

    4.5 Book advertisements need to stop comparing new coming books to old successful ones because it’s damaging to the emerging author. Readers automatically come to the book with an exact expectation, and I found that so far on Goodreads the book has received somewhere between 2-3 stars simply because readers’ expectations were not met. The first line in every one of its ads is as follows: “The anti-Eat Pray Love – A darkly comic novel about travel.” My mind automatically went to cynical of: ‘trav

    4.5 Book advertisements need to stop comparing new coming books to old successful ones because it’s damaging to the emerging author. Readers automatically come to the book with an exact expectation, and I found that so far on Goodreads the book has received somewhere between 2-3 stars simply because readers’ expectations were not met. The first line in every one of its ads is as follows: “The anti-Eat Pray Love – A darkly comic novel about travel.” My mind automatically went to cynical of: ‘travelogue,’ ‘self-discovery’ or in a way convince us that traveling isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be. I wanted wanderlust travellers to be exposed for being as empty as the rest of us (just for a different take on it). I’m angry as a reader for two reasons: one that the ads for this book let J.D. Sumner down, and two: that readers (who should know better) changed their answers on Goodreads. I tracked some of the linked reviews and they gave this book 4 or 5 stars and as soon as they got on Goodreads and saw some cranky first reviewers changed their answers to 2-3 stars. Stand by your first instinct and trust your own opinion!

    So here’s what this book is actually about:

    The main character, Jack Kaganagh, wants to visit 100 countries so that he may enter the Travelers’ Century Club all before he turns 45. His fiancé had been an enthusiast for traveling and they had gone on some adventures together, yet as of recent his fiancé has disappeared, in fact everything about her has an aura of strangeness around it. For his final choices of destinations he has chosen to go to the ‘Coronation Islands’ which are between Madagascar and Sri Lanka: Placentia, Kilrush, and Fulgary. Although there is a Coronation Island near Australia, the locations Kaganagh explores are fictional.

    Sumner begins the novel with this lovely quotation from When The Going Was Good by Evelyn Waugh:

    “at the age of thirty-five one needs to go to the moon or some such place, to recapture the excitement with which one first landed at Calais"

    However, the quotation starting part two, is much more suited to our main character:

    “I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.” – W.C. Fields

    The novel isn’t dark and comic but the main character is. I found it easier to imagine someone like Dr. House to be on this trip (seriously, House even said: “It’s nothing personal, I don’t like anybody” in Season 1.

    A cranky, cynical person, who has had so many life experiences that he’s resistant to many things and won’t take too much attitude from people. He’s obviously privileged (100 countries by 45) and an Englishman. I do think this book is a critique of the people who travel for travelling’s sake rather than feeling drawn to true adventure. Travelling to tick of check marks, or put notches down – or share it on social media for others to know and see that you have done it is not the same as fully enjoying the place and having a real adventure. Jack spends his mornings sleeping in, and taking interim naps, he reads the preface to another author’s book In Placentia (also fictional) and falls asleep. He just wants to get to that 100 Countries club. Jack is not enjoying anything, he’s clearly depressed from losing his fiancé and adventure buddy. He kind of reminded me of the Cohen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davies. I also think there are opportunities to read closer into the names he gives places, books, and authors.

    J.D. Sumner graduated from The Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin and has a PhD in Satirical Travel Writing from Royal Holloway College, University of London. His thesis explores the history of British travel writing and examines how the literature of exploration, which initially presented itself as factual, evolved into the fictional use of travel writing.

    I for one enjoyed his constructions. This story has so many layers and there are so many “books” that Jack is reading that don’t exist. I liked it.

    I recommend this book to people who are fans of studying travel literature and can see past an “easy” read. This is NOT a real travelogue, or a ‘finding yourself’ kind of story.

  • Pop Bop
    May 18, 2017

    Travel Fiction May Be The Best Travel Writing

    In 1985 Jan Morris, the brilliant Welsh travel writer, published "Last Letters From Hav", a book that so exquisitely described the beauty, wonder, history, politics, culture, and appeal of "Hav", an entirely fictional place, that hopeful travelers besieged travel agencies for years trying to arrange visits there. That book came to mind as I read this wonderful addition to the fake-travel genre.

    Thinking about other travel memoirs by authors I admire,

    Travel Fiction May Be The Best Travel Writing

    In 1985 Jan Morris, the brilliant Welsh travel writer, published "Last Letters From Hav", a book that so exquisitely described the beauty, wonder, history, politics, culture, and appeal of "Hav", an entirely fictional place, that hopeful travelers besieged travel agencies for years trying to arrange visits there. That book came to mind as I read this wonderful addition to the fake-travel genre.

    Thinking about other travel memoirs by authors I admire, (Theroux, Bryson, Eric Newby, and so on), it occurred to me that fictional memoirs offer so much more opportunity for exploration and satire and entertainment. Nonfiction practitioners are limited to what they experience, their own preconceptions, and their own attitudes and personalities, and the best they can hope for is that they have enough interesting experiences to elaborate on, dress up, or exaggerate into book length. But a fiction writer has an unlimited canvas upon which to work. Create a hero, invent a fictional world, and then introduce whatever events and supporting characters seem interesting.

    That's what you get here. There is sly and deadpan commentary as well as antic buffoonery. Hotels, travel agents, airlines, the traveling public, travel connoisseurs - they all get comic treatment. Travelers of all levels of experience and style will find themselves identifying with certain experiences and nodding along with the hero's withering observations. This is pointed and perceptive stuff. Of course, part of the joke is that Kavanagh shares many of the less appealing characteristics that he mocks in others, but for me that just added another, maybe more subtle, layer to the satire.

    Perhaps even better than the jokes and commentary is the fact that our fictional hero, Jack Kavanagh, is much more interesting than most real non-fiction memoirists. The real authors have whatever personal baggage life has given them - daddy issues, marriage issues, general grumpiness, world weary dismay. But Kavanagh, having been created out of thin air, is a more layered, and surprising, protagonist. Even as we play along with and enjoy his whinging and grim despair we find that a more interesting and sympathetic character is being teased out. At some point we realize that this is, in part, a meditation on loneliness disguised as a travel comedy.

    In any event, I thought this had enough good lines, enough fine moments, and such a well realized fictional setting that I was happy to bump it up on my list of fake travelogues. A nice, if slightly off the beaten path, find.

    (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

  • Elaine Kent
    May 18, 2017

    The Excursionist .... a satirical tale of travel and tourism in the 21st century.

    Meet Jack Kaganagh, he is about to visit countries 98,99 and 100 on his personal hit list. Journey with him as he tells us in his own words about why he is where he is and share his holiday with him.

    I found this book an absolute delight and laughed at loud too many times to mention. I think my wry smiles and nods of agreement as I was reading would have been enough to annoy Jack ,who I perceived as a cross between

    The Excursionist .... a satirical tale of travel and tourism in the 21st century.

    Meet Jack Kaganagh, he is about to visit countries 98,99 and 100 on his personal hit list. Journey with him as he tells us in his own words about why he is where he is and share his holiday with him.

    I found this book an absolute delight and laughed at loud too many times to mention. I think my wry smiles and nods of agreement as I was reading would have been enough to annoy Jack ,who I perceived as a cross between Jack Dee and Michael McIntyre.

    Here is Jack talking :

    "They took me under their patronage and introduced me to Bernd Poric , the pasty faced Swiss German manager, who in a bizarre twist , didn't have a sense of humour"

    If you enjoy travel, if you like a laugh whilst you read this is highly recommended. It may even be worth reading before you book that next holiday.

  • Tess Lock
    May 19, 2017

    Well written and thoughtful, introspective but satirical, the self deprecating hero will appeal to us Brits.. Literary fiction/travel/humour at its most effective.

    Not just a fiction travel novel but one person's exploration of himself, what one needs to be happy, we are all trying to work out who we are and what makes us happy.

    ‘So you’re the clever fella who thinks he can find love in places rather than in people,’ Anne said....

    This work highlights the importance of the relationships we make wi

    Well written and thoughtful, introspective but satirical, the self deprecating hero will appeal to us Brits.. Literary fiction/travel/humour at its most effective.

    Not just a fiction travel novel but one person's exploration of himself, what one needs to be happy, we are all trying to work out who we are and what makes us happy.

    ‘So you’re the clever fella who thinks he can find love in places rather than in people,’ Anne said....

    This work highlights the importance of the relationships we make with other people,

    "Or is it the case that the more you travel, the more you realise that actually we’re all the same."

    There is also an exploration of materialism throughout, the need to have more of everything, in this case visits to other countries, to justify ourselves. Does this lead to happiness?

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