x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Holidays in Heck: around the world in travel mishaps

In this follow-up to Holidays in Hell, PJ O'Rourke's humorous reportage from the world's scariest places, the veteran journalist recalls his worst experiences as a holidaymaker.

Holidays in Heck
P.J. O'Rourke
Grove Press UK
Holidays in Heck P.J. O'Rourke Grove Press UK

War correspondent and acerbic wit PJ O'Rourke navigates more mundane but no less dangerous territory in this follow-up to Holidays in Hell. This time, rather than dodging bullets, it's tourists and a nagging family that he's doing his bit to avoid and each chapter of Holidays in Heck is a recollection of a non- work-related trip that O'Rourke has experienced (or rather, endured).

These range from European ventures via the beaches of Guadeloupe and a trip on a Boeing to Toulouse, to a (literal) crash-course in horse-riding in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

Throughout it all, O'Rourke maintains a complete lack of appreciation for each opportunity, like a curmudgeonly old uncle who only sees the glass as half-empty.

And yet, therein lies the charm of this book. Like the tourists he routinely maligns, O'Rourke always avoids any suggestion of there being an upside to holidaying in these destinations. "Nothing," he contends, "has greater potential to annoy a reader than a writer recounting what fun he's had."

So there we have it: 265 pages of holiday mishaps, where ironic humour abounds. O'Rourke certainly knows what he's doing.