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Honorable Bandit

A Walk across Corsica

Brian Bouldrey

Publication Year: 2007

Brian Bouldrey traveled to the island of Corsica, with its wine-dark Mediterranean waters, powdered-sugar beach sand, sumptuous cuisine, and fine wine. And then he walked away from all of them.
     Bouldrey strapped on a backpack and walked across Napoleon's native land with the same spirit many choose to dance or drink: to celebrate, to mourn, to think, to avoid thinking, to recall, to ignore, to escape, and to arrive.
     This wonderfully textured account of a two-week ramble along a famous Corsican hiking trail with his German friend Petra (she was good at the downhills while he was better at the uphills) offers readers a journal that is a launching point for reflection: thoughts on cultural differences, friendship, physical challenge, personal challenge, and getting very, very lost. Part travelogue, part memoir, and part lampoon, this book offers readers an impressionistic view of a little talked about yet stunningly beautiful landscape.


Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians and the Public Library Association
Runner-up, Best Travel Book, National Association of Travel Journalists

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii

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Author’s Note

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pp. ix-xi

Corsica is an island 5,233 square miles in size, floating like a stone ship in the Mediterranean (this area of that great European bathtub is specifically called the Tuscan Sea), closest to the Italian city of Genoa (some eighty miles east) but politically and problematically part of France. ...

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pp. xiii

My thanks to Michael Cook, John Bliss, Tony Rella, Anthony Veerkamp, Jean-Philippe Casutt, Petra Wellemsen, Mary Kinzie, Reginald Gibbons, Marta Maretich, John Beckman, Kelly Luchtman, Gwenan Wilbur, Jill Olson, Larry Wood, Jennifer Locke, Toby Sullivan, Mary Sutherland, Wayne Sheldrake, ...

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1 Why I Walk: Imagining the Maquis

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pp. 3-18

I had never seen a burned maquis, but back in 1991, from our south San Francisco cottage, my partner, Jeff, and I could see the Oakland Hills blaze away. We were having a party in the garden, and it was too late to call it off on account of bad taste, so we all stood among the gerber daisies, nasturtium, ...

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2 Jet Lag

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pp. 19-58

The Port of Marseilles! Putaine de merde! Everybody along the quay looks like a pirate or a prisoner! Ruffians and lowlifes! Con artists and cheapskates! Five o’clock shadows at eleven in the morning! Beer fifteen minutes after that! And that’s just the babies, crying out for unfiltered cigarettes from their carriages. ...

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3 Why I Walk: Walk-Off

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pp. 59-72

I come from an agreeable family. That seems both a bit of damning with faint praise and a little coy, but I am nothing, considering the disappointments and terrible possibilities of the world, if not grateful. Nobody in my bloodline is psychologically wicked, or wrecked, though my mother has thus diagnosed every one of us ...

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4 Bandit l’Honneur

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pp. 73-112

The father shepherd, Paulo, has risen and taken his two pack mules into town for supplies and returned again before we have taken down our tent and showered. It is a gorgeous morning to enjoy, with plenty of coffee for which I am perfectly happy to pay a premium, and Petra takes her time packing. ...

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5 Why I Walk: The Rake’s Progress

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pp. 113-132

1. I was surprised to find, though now I know I shouldn’t have been, Ulysses eternally punished in Dante’s dank oubliette of an Inferno— deep down, even, at the eighth circle, among the hypocrites, thieves, and schismatics. After reading this, I remained defensively respectful to Ulysses, who always stopped to have a nice meal, ...

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6 Lammergeier

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pp. 133-170

Near the top of the Citadel of Corte, cultural and political seat of Corsican nationalism and the University of Corte, Petra and I, scrubbed, antiperspirated, coifed (her), and shaven (me), are enjoying a late breakfast in a sun-dappled restaurant al fresco while waiting for the museum to open. ...

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7 Why I Walk: Adnomination

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pp. 171-184

I’m better at packing for a trip, now. Any trip, not just the foot trips. If it doesn’t fit in the overhead luggage, it’s not going. Every time I’ve checked a bag, something got broken: CD jewel cases, toothbrush handles, a souvenir trilobite fossil. Nothing important, agreed, but once, when unpacking after Mexico City, ...

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8 Local Customs

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pp. 185-224

I write in my journal—and it seems important to repeat in print: “I saw a cloud in the shape of a perfect brassiere today.” I think I mean that the shape is perfect, perfect for its being in the shape of a brassiere, but the meaning is there. ...

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9 Why I Walk: Imagining the Maquis

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pp. 225-234

All of my travels end up “mid-epic” in scale. I go away for a long time. Home gathers dust. Seasons change. Milk spoils in the fridge. Friends move away. Careers launch and fail. Like the eponymous Swimmer of Cheever’s story, the world shifts radically. Is it possible to miss away the way people miss home? ...


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pp. 235-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780299223236
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299223205

Publication Year: 2007