Travel Writer Pico Iyer Offers "The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere"

Apr 2, 2015

"Don't just do something," goes an old saying that's sometimes attributed to the Buddha, "sit there." On this installment of ST, we speak with the widely acclaimed travel writer and essayist Pico Iyer, whose newest book is called "The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere." It may seem odd to find one of contemporary literature's best travel writers composing a book-lenth essay about not traveling, but Iyer begs to differ. Indeed, as he notes on our show today, traveling might well provide the wallpaper and decorations of the house that is his life, but stillness is the foundation. And thus his book, "The Art of Stillness" is, as the Boston Globe has noted, "a bustling paean to the stationary life.... Iyer’s argument is an engaging amalgam of memoir, reportage, and literary essay.... Iyer uses a fluid blend of argument and anecdote to make a persuasive and eloquent case that contemplating internal landscapes can be just as rich an experience as traveling through external ones. The fact that he has traveled to some of the world’s most obscure corners only strengthens his credibility as a defender of stillness." And further, from The New York Times Book Review: "In lesser hands this tiny volume might be a throwaway of glib, 'new age' comfort-speak, but like Henry David Thoreau's equally brief classic on another seemingly mundane exercise -- walking -- Iyer's thoughtful nature leads him to peel back layer upon layer, nodding toward the infinite.... Plunging effortlessly beneath platitudes, this wafer-thin volume reminds us of what might just be the greatest paradox of travel -- after all our road running, after all our flights of fancy to the farthest corners of the globe, after all our touring, our seeking and questing, perhaps, just perhaps, fellow travelers, there really is no place like home."