Viva la YOLO (a book review)

Ferrarese is a walking talking writing reality-TV host sans his own reality TV series. This book contains mini-essays of about two dozen (or is it two hundred) places he’s visited, from Baikal Lake to Tabriz Bazaar to what he calls Sri Lanka’s most well-known beach resort, Bentota.

There is no doubt that if you’ve been to the places Ferrarese describes, you’ll enjoy his cute epithets about the scenery, the worries of the locals, the ghost rituals, the comparisons with blockbuster movies, and so on. And if you’re planning a trip to any of these sites, you could certainly get worse introductions to these locations than what’s in the book. It’s kinda like ‘Lonely Planet’ in print thus made less lonely.

Ferrarese must be among the 0.1% of people in the world who remains voluntarily annd happily homeless, that special elite for whom to be alive is to travel. He won’t be renovating his kitchen or fixing his roof anytime soon. It’s too bad this book didn’t include more reflections on the deep pleasures and life-shaping philosophies of ‘extreme’ travelling. Like Xander Cage it’s more than obvious that Ferrarese ‘lives for this shit” but like Vin Diesel’s character there’s not much explanation cum encouragement to others as to why; as in, how does living/moving like this transform the modern subject, in a way that, say, buying the latest Samsung Galaxy 8 simply can’t?

No doubt, the globe’s one exciting buffet (a notion helped but Ferrarese’s stories about Mongolian rock-cheese, Bangladeshi pork intestines and Sri Lankan shark fins) and witnessing events like a Javanese demon-outcasting dance, Tibetan horse-stunts in the interest of wife-hunting, fire-crackers in Malaysia and Balinese cock-fights, sure beats the hell out of staring at a Power-point slide from 9 to 5. As per Tom Vater in his foreword (probably the best foreword anyone’s gonna read from a travel book), there is no doubt I envy Ferrarese and his ability to not feel he has to live a ‘normal’ life qua office cogs like yours truly. Nevertheless, perhaps Ferrarese could take a few lessons from people like Tim Ferriss (also a seasoned traveler) who has integrated his ‘global movement’ with an anti-industrial philosophy.

I reckon the chapters could’ve benefited from more reflection which went beyond what ‘happened’; this may help the book feel less disjointed, with more of a narrative flow (e.g. background-crisis-resolution) or even ‘philosophy’ (or a this-is-what-life-should-be-ness) which adds to the significance. The book at times feels like a collection of prolonged Instagram comments. Speaking of which, I also wish there were more photographs. The ones in the book are, like Ferrarese’s philosophy of travel and audacity in living it out, nothing short of breath-taking.

Whatever my quibbles with the book, don’t let that stop you from checking it out. Ferrarese’s definitely not your ‘average man on the street’; he’s obviously been on more streets than I will ever be. And, in a myopic / xenophobic age like ours, this is hardly a bad thing.

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.

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