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AMERICAN WRITERS SUPPLEMENT XXVIII Eprrep py Jay Parint ARNOW LrerwLOVEy BRYANT ECK GOLD GOODMAN Taare) sn! NORTHUP PROUTY ies) SPIOTTA TMU a TEALE DVN Cela WOODSON MULATIVE INDEX TO VOLUMES I-IV AND SUPPLEMEN' AND RETROSPECTIVE SUPPLEMENTS I-III $$ ~S > STEPHANIE ELIZONDO GRIEST (1974—) Kristin Winet Sreraayae Etzzonoo Gruest likes to tell the story of her great-great-uncle Jake, an intrepid wan- derer who saw all of the United States with his Jegs hanging off the edge of a freight train, This story is usually followed by stories of her father, ‘who drummed his way around the world with the United States Navy Band, and then of her ‘cousins, a pair of freedom-loving cowboys who chased cattle all across the deserts of South | Texas. According to Griest, what these men in _ her family have in common is that their stories represent the wanderlust that is encoded into her DNA and that actively—and persistently— “pumps through {her} veins” (100 Places, p. xii) Straddling the line between reportage and mem- ‘ir, a Tine she declares is arbitrary, Griest’s work echoes this lifelong desire to satisfy the wander lust she was born with, to better understand the complexities of post-Communist countries and places going through immense social change, and to bring to light the magnificent and the ordinary ina complex, globalized world Griest's joyful sense of humor and colloquial yet academically curious style resonate in the books that have established this Chicana feminist A the forefront of literary travel journalisma. In Addition to her three travel books, published between 2004 and 2010, her journalism, which ‘as appeated in such diverse magazines and liter- ‘ary joumals as The Believer, Florida Review, Poets & Writers, Texas Observer, and Latina Magazine, showcases the dexterity of her work And her ability to cross the gentes of memoir, Teportage, and literary journalism almost Seamlessly, With a wide audience and a political hinds focused almost exclusively on exploring feminist issues, advocating for free speech, and ——day-she turned thisty, she knew it-was time to 97 investigating the way democracy enhances (and sometimes stifles) lives across the world, she shines most when she is able to weave together her own adventurous travel tales with the lives and experiences of the people she meets and beftiends along the way. In her first book, Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana (2004), she openly admits her fear of remaining either unknown or stuck for life in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, citing a terrifying dream in which she wakes up at twenty-five “roaming Mary Carroll High’s halls in [her] letterman jacket and getting plastered in the ‘Taco Bell park- ing lot for fun” (p. xi). In Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines (2008), she admits that even after she spent her twenties on four dif- ferent continents, she still couldn't sit still: the (again) quit her day job, cram everything she ‘owned into storage, and ravage her savings ac- count (p. 4). In her guidebook, 100 Places Every Woman Should Go (2007), she reaffirms this real- ity by reminding her readers that although she has explored two dozen countries and all but four USS. states, she still aches for more (p. xiii. ‘Though her work often seeks to give voice to the voiceless and explore the wider world of social justice issues through her journalism, she is never personally removed from the people and places she writes about; in fact, she is an integral part—and voice—of the stories she tells, wres- ing with her own wanderlust and her desire to rival the stories of her male ancestors. This is the context from which Griest enters the wider world of travel journalism, and why she starts many of her travel narratives by addressing this wander- i j STEPHANIE ELIZONDO GRIEST lust, She has always felt a need to legitimize and explain the gnawing: she is both an uneneum- bered female wanderer (most of her belongings fit into her backpack) and an observant feminist journalist, falling in love, time and time again, with places around the globe that people had least expected her to love. This gives her work a certain immediacy and credibility, simultaneously legitimizing her penchant for social activism and the reasons she is committed to telling her own stories and giving voice (o the voiceless. Her journalism actively reflects this. Her part-memoir, part-reportage blend of travel writing places her directly in the center while observing the issues of revolution, empire, and colonialism as they unfold around her and directly inform her life experience—and stoke her fire for adventure, for a life story she believes to be worth telling Griest’s work is also an important contribu tion 10 the world of travel journalism because she offers a welcome voice to the otherwise male- dominated field she desperately desired to enter In many ways, her books differ from much mainstream travel journalism—and that of her male predecessors in particular—simply because she is fueled by a lifelong desire to fully under- stand how she fits in with the intrepid men of her past and to figure out how, as a biracial woman With Mexican roots who grew up calling herself white, she fits into the wider global tapestry of individuals whose lives are marked by migration, exile, and belonging. This tension—how to ap- preciate her home roots more thoroughly while also stroking her wanderlust—both fueled ‘ests original desire to become a travel journalist and now serves as a countemarrative to the many travel tales of women of privilege divorcing themselves from their material posses: sions and personal commitments in exchange for travel. For this reason, her subject position as a biracial woman of mixed heritage continues to resonate with the many women travelers who face similar dilemmas between staying home and traveling abroad—and provides welcome alterna as tives to more traditional narratives. Therefore, ‘a much-needed voice in the field of womer travel journalism, Griest offers us a compelli perspective. 98. BIOGRAPHY tephanie Elizondo Griest was born on June 6, 1974, in Corpus Christi, Texas, a place that has become a touchstone in her books as the place from which she constantly escapes and returns, Al her life, having barely left the confines of this Texas city on the Gulf of Mexico, Griest grew up wondering if she, too, could participate in—and even rival—the stories of the males in the family. Having grown up in a place that she claims held nothing more for her than strip centers, shopping malls, and a relatively unevent- ful high schoo! life, she knew that she needed to find the kind of life that suburban America could not satisfy. When the time came to make impor tant life decisions upon graduation, she realized that if she didn’t seek an alternative reality for herself, she would likely, for instance, end up buying all of her jewelry from a booth at the mall rather than from its country of origin (Around the Bloc, p. xi). In other words, she was terrified that she would never be able to rival the stories her male ancestors could tell around the dinner table and at family holidays. As she writes in the preface to The Best Women's Travel Writ- ing 2010, she would never be able to start a conversation like “that time in Burkina Faso” or that time “in Marrakech . ..” (p. xv). This thread—rationalizing and legitimizing her trav els—permeates all of Griest’s travel books, emphasizing her need to make her presence known and to stand as tall as her traveling ancestors. This dream started to materialize for her dur- ing her senior year in high school, when she ap- plied for and was chosen to attend a prestigious journalism conference in Washington, D.C., that featured a keynote address by a top CNN cor respondent who had covered both the fall of the Berlin Wall and the recent collapse of the Soviet Union. Having considered the idea of becoming a journalist for most of her young life, she decided she had to go to the conference, so she raised some money, talked her mother out of het frequent flyer miles, and boarded a plane for the first time in her life, Listening to the keynol® speaker, she realized the trajectory of her life didn't have to begin and end in South Texas; she could become an international journalist. Griest a