Literary Traveler Q&A

We’re curious about a many things at Literary Traveler. But a there are a few ‘big questions’ everyone who contributes to it asks. Here are some questions and answers by some of our staff and interns.

Carly Cassano 

Favorite Author/Book: Ernest Hemingway/One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Favorite literary character: Karen Blixen, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Favorite Place to Travel: The Mountains, The Ocean

Dream Trip: Tibet, South India, Spain

One True Sentence: “The people have the power!” Patti Smith

Amanda Festa

Favorite Author/Book:  Hands down it would have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, every time I read it I appreciate it more and more.

Favorite literary character: I have always been drawn to Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby and I feel like she doesn’t get as much credit in the novel as she should.  She’s cynical and a great observer and has some amazing observations that are some of my all time favorite moments in literature, particularly her commentary about careless driving, which takes on multiple meanings for anyone who knows me personally. (I am a terrible driver!)

Favorite Place to Travel: I love cities that have a lot of history.  Being from Boston, I think I might take it a little bit for granted until I step back and look at how much is around me.  I also love off the beaten path type places, where you feel as though you’re discovering something that not too many people have the opportunity to experience.

Dream Trip:  I have never been to New Orleans and have always wanted to go. There is so much there between the history, the culture, the nightlife… I feel like I would need at least a week! My absolute dream trip would be a cross country road trip that traverses the southern US, ending in California.

One True Sentence: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  After reading this beautiful bittersweet book, the last line just hits you and I feel that it stays with you long after you’ve put the book down.  At least it did for me.  And it’s stayed with me since the first time I read it, so for about 13 years or so.  I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

Katy Kelleher

Favorite Author/Book: The Master and Margarita (or The Chronicles of Narnia, depending on my mood)

Favorite literary character: Merricat Blackwood from We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Favorite Place to Travel: The small cities of Eastern Europe

Dream Trip: A roadtrip through the wilderness of Iceland

One True Sentence: “It might interest you to know, / speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, / that I am the sound of rain on the roof.” Billy Collins

Melissa Mapes

Favorite Author/Book: JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series define my adolescence. I used to dream of the day an owl would drop off an acceptance letter from Hogwarts.

Favorite literary character: Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces

Favorite Place to Travel: Portugal, or the US West coast

Dream Trip: Cycling from abbey to abbey across Belgium to taste the incredible beer brewed there by monks.

One True Sentence: “Not all those who wander are lost.” JRR Tolkien

Kelsey Liebenson-Morse 

Favorite Author/Book:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The greatest love story of all time, I cry a little every time I read it.  Still waiting to find my Rochester.

Favorite literary character: Dr. Henry Jekyl/Mr. Edward Hyde. When I pick up this book, I can’t put it down. Stevenson’s two-faced man surprises and delights me.

Favorite Place to Travel: Anywhere I’ve never been before.

Dream Trip: Rio De Janeiro. After taking a course in college about the people/culture/cuisine/landscape of Brazil, I knew it was next on my (endless) list of desired travels. Cuba is a close second.

One True Sentence: “All this happened, more or less.” Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. I love Vonnegut’s wacky aphorisms and I love this nod to the eternal question: What separates the truth from fiction?

Jessica Ellen Monk

Favorite Author/Book: It’s too tough to pick a favorite, so I’ll just say that the best novel I read this year was Ubik by Philip K. Dick.

Favorite literary character: It would be a cross between Hamlet, Ignatius from Confederacy of Dunces and Sally Bowles from Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Diaries (Cabaret), if you can imagine what that would be like…

Favorite Place to Travel:  At the moment most of my major trips are between Boston and Dublin. I miss being able to take short flights to cities in Europe, or traveling within Ireland– making a short trip to the coast or the hills.

Dream Trip: I always think in terms of the next place I would like to go, so as I’m living in the US now I would love to do a proper road-trip! New Orleans is high on the agenda for a US city-break.

One True Sentence: “He said to me that he had spent his whole life learning how to choose what he had no choice but to do” – from the last book in Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series. Ursula Le Guin is a Taoist.  The wizard, Ged, has lost his active power but is learning how to be still in the face of crisis.

Wes Newbury 

Favorite Author/Book:  Ernest Hemingway/For Whom the Bell Tolls

Favorite literary character: Smoke Bellew, Jack London’s Smoke Bellew

Favorite Place to Travel: Anywhere in the Americas.

Dream Trip: I want to travel throughout the entirety of the American continents. My dream would be to call that a job. For now, I’ll travel them by all means necessary. This summer, my friend and I set off to take a good chunk of North America as we peddle ourselves across the United States- from Boston to the Red Woods of California. From there, maybe we’ll just keep going. I hope to make all of my dream trips a reality, until I run out of trips to dream.

One True Sentence: “Deje el mundo cambiarle y usted puede cambiar el mundo. — Let the world change you and you can change the world.” Ernesto Guevara

Antoinette Weil

Favorite Author/Book:  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m not sure why but it has stuck with me ever since I read it the first time, and the subsequent times. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is right up there along with George Orwell’s 1984.

Favorite literary character: Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. He’s level-headed, thoughtful and just. I wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger, and Atticus Finch is exactly the type of lawyer (and the type of human being) that I would want to be.

Favorite Place to Travel: Due to budget-related restrictions, I haven’t yet been able to revisit the places that I’ve traveled and loved. One that stands out in my mind is traveling Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Four friends rented an RV and drove the 150 mile stretch of southern coast of the beautiful continent. It was chock-full of naturally breathtaking sites and the experience of being “outside” the city, on our own on the open road was one I will always remember.

Dream Trip: Russia. So much history and so different from ours in the US. It has the old-world-meets-new kind of appeal and there’s something seemingly eerie about it.  A must on my bucket list.

One True Sentence: This is a tough one. Out of left field I’m going to go with a quote from Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption.  “Get busy living or get busy dying.”  It’s as simple as that.