Outdoor Adventure Memoirs by Women: Martha Gellhorn's 'Travels With Myself and Another'

Cheryl Strayed, the latest Oprah book club inductee, isn't the first female writer to pen an epic adventure memoir. We take a look back at five other books that you should consider adding to your summer reading list.

Jun 27, 2012
Outside Magazine
Martha Gellhorn's <i>Travels With Myself and Another</a>

Martha Gellhorn's Travels With Myself and Another    Photo: Viking

Martha Gellhorn was a globe-girdling war reporter, novelist, and travel writer. She was also the third wife of Ernest Hemingway, the “another” referred to in the title of her memoir. Papa shows up briefly in the book, referred to as U.C. (her “Unwilling Companion”—she recalls that after their arrival in Hawaii, he fumed, “I never had no Christed flowers around my neck before and the next son of a bitch who touches me I am going to cool him”), but really, it’s a memoir about Gellhorn’s solo travels, her “best horror journeys.”

The writing is spare and dry, laced with caustic humor. An account of Gellhorn’s first trip to Africa, a 1962 trek from Cameroon across the heart of the continent to Kenya, takes up half of the book. (Elsewhere, she sails the Caribbean in a local’s sloop, and hangs on a Red Sea beach with a group of hippie backpackers. “Like their bourgeois elders, who swap names of restaurants, they told each other where the hash was good,” Gellhorn writes. “It is impossible to escape a painful amount of dull conversation in this life but for sheer one-track dullness those kids took the cookie.”) Cranks have a long, proud history in travel writing—see: Theroux, Paul—but Gellhorn manages a neat trick: Even while she dwells on the worst of her misadventures, her love of exploration and discovery peers through. “No matter how horrendous the last journey we never give up hope for the next one,” she writes. “God knows why.”

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