Review | Monday 29 October 2012
I must admit to not having read a great deal of travel writing, having been restricted to the odd P.J. O’Rourke and Bill Bryson. However, I think Adventures of a Compulsive Traveller by Dominic Dunne could sit well in their company.
Dunne grew up in Queensland in the 1970s. His early employment was as a cadet journalist for Brisbane’s Courier Mail, and he later worked as assistant to the CEO of Qantas, as well as a communications consultant for the Australian Embassy in Washington (all of which obviously helped him amass a few thousand air miles). Now, he has put together these experiences and encounters into an extremely amusing and intelligent collection of travel stories.
The gift of a good travel writer is to be self-deprecating while at the same time giving the reader a little bit of history about the subject. On Dunne’s many travels, we get to hear of his hobnobbing with Hilary Clinton and his inability to converse with Yoko Ono (she renders him frozen with fear), as well as a hilarious trip to Graceland and his preference for Japanese baths. On many occasions we observe how insular Americans can be.
When Dunne talks about standing on the very balcony in Hawaii where the opening sequence to the original 70s TV show Hawaii Five-O was filmed, you get this tinkling of nostalgia.
Some of Dunne’s stories are so outlandish – like his encounters with singer Nana Mouskouri or a certain liquorice incident with Gene Pitney – that you’ll chuckle to yourself, amazed that these things actually happened. The most touching part of the collection is the author’s 20-year friendship with his namesake: former Hollywood producer, novelist and Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne.
Michael Awosoga-Samuel is a bookseller and music specialist at Readings Carlton.