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Lucy Knisley’s Latest Travelogue Takes Us To Tanzania And Back Again

Over the last few years, Lucy Knisley has delighted the Internet with her thoughtful comic essays at Stop Paying Attention, her massive Harry Potter posters and all manner of web-carried whimsy. (Like the squid costume. I must know how one makes such an adorable squid costume.) But she first came to the attention of many comic readers through French Milk, her epicurean travelogue about her month-long trip to Paris with her mother. More recently, Knisley has been returning to travelogues with her more practiced hand: Last year she published Here at Sowmoles (originally titled something Warner Bros.’ lawyers didn’t like), about her trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She’s currently working on a longer piece about a cruise she took with her grandparents. And her latest ebook, simply titled Tanzania Travelogue, is a watercolored account of a recent press trip to Tanzania, complete with swanky hotels and safaris. Expect envy-inducing descriptions of amazing food things and lots and lots of animals.
Knisley’s travelogue has been excerpted on Saveur (that wonderful publisher of webcomic recipes) and it gives you a taste of Knisley’s extra-continental experiences. She’s endlessly charmed by the animals, in love with nearly everything she eats and a bit overwhelmed by the luxury of it all. On top of that, Knisley’s drawings capture something more than cameras can, offering a sense not just of what things look like but what it’s like to be there.

The full, 60-page ebook, however, offers a fuller story, about her further travels in Tanzania as well as the strange nature of press travel trips. Knisley lets us in on a little inside baseball, including the strangeness of reviewing a trip that’s paid for by the travel company. She also confesses her fear of snakes (alluded to in the Saveur excerpt), takes us to a series of increasingly gorgeous lodgings and revels in the local history and culture. And there are tons of amazing, I-want-to-go-there experiences on tap, from horseback safaris to visits to a spice plantation. Lest we be too swept away by the romance of it all, the trip is bookended by two long sets of flights between Tanzania and New York City.

Tanzania Travelogue isn’t as tightly meditative of Knisley’s essays, though there are quieter, reflective moments. What comes through on every page (even the jet-lagged ones) is an unabashed joy in visiting a new place, the thrill of new experiences, and the comforts of friendly people and delicious food. If the touring company was looking for an advertisement for Tanzania tourism, I’m not sure they could have done better than Knisley’s comics.

Did I mention there are lions?

Knisley’s complete Tanzania Travelogue is available from Lulu.

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