Thursday, March 10, 2016

REVIEW: NO BAGGAGE by Clara Bensen

My review of No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering (Running Press) by Austinite Clara Bensen was published in Lone Star Literary Life! This is a hybrid memoir, travelogue, love story and successful journey through mental illness. No Baggage is by turns funny, candid and brave. From the review:
Clara, a smart, observant introvert, a “nice girl who played by all the rules,” was raised in an evangelical household terrified of Sartre. She had a crisis of faith and then, Sartre-like, an existential crisis. Recently surfaced in wonderment and determination from two years of a nervous breakdown, Clara is starving for life. 
Intent on the “unconventional life,” Jeff is intense, charming, and either adventurous or reckless, depending upon your tolerance for risk, with a tendency to allow “playful disruption” to escalate into heedless exhibitionism. His motto is “We’ll see.” As in, where are we staying tonight? “We’ll see.” How are we getting from Budapest to Sarajevo? “We’ll see.” 
No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering is a hybrid of memoir, travelogue, and psychological and philosophical rumination on the American condition in a time of rapid transformation. After meeting in Austin, Texas, through OKCupid and dating for a month, Clara and Jeff bought plane tickets to Istanbul and return tickets from London for a three-week trip through Europe. They used Couchsurfing.com to lay their heads at night—“no hotels, no reservations, no itineraries,” relying on serendipity, synchronicity, and the kindness of strangers. The “no baggage” in the title is literal—Clara and Jeff took only the clothes on their backs. It is also figurative in that they were in the midst of a relationship experiment—no traditional commitments—trying to travel without emotional baggage.
Click here to read the entire review. Thank you!

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