The Morning Call (Sunday)

Writers laud American places in online essays

- By Beth J. Harpaz

Sixteen notable writers have created a combined list of places that they believe helped shape and define America, from coastal Oregon and Solvang, California, to Ellis Island and New Hampshire’s Black Heritage Trail.

The resulting collection of mini-essays, including contributi­ons from memoirist Cheryl Strayed, novelist Jodi Picoult, humorist David Sedaris and activist Gloria Steinem, was organized by Frommer’s, the travel guidebook company. The collection can be read for free online.

The compilatio­n is designed to be food for thought rather than an invitation to hit the road.

With COVID-19 cases surging in many parts of the country, “we don’t want people to use these essays as the basis for travel until doing so is safe once again,” Pauline Frommer, who heads the guidebook company, said. “We hope this list will be a spur to future travel, but we also just wanted it to be great reading right now.”

If 2020 had been a normal year, Frommer and other travel experts would be offering yearend lists of great vacation spots for 2021 right now. But “with the virus surging, we felt it was irresponsi­ble for us to put together a story that pushes travel,” she said.

So instead, the company decided to invite celebrated storytelle­rs to write about “places they thought Americans should know about to better understand who we are as a people and/or what we need right now to heal our divisions.”

Steinem wrote about Serpent MoundHisto­rical Site in Ohio. Picoult picked the Black Heritage Trail in NewHampshi­re. Sedaris recommende­d the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. Strayed wrote about the Oregon coast.

 ?? DAMIAN DOVARGANES/AP1997 ?? The ManzanarJa­panese internment camp, near Independen­ce, California, is featured in a collection of short essays available online.
DAMIAN DOVARGANES/AP1997 The ManzanarJa­panese internment camp, near Independen­ce, California, is featured in a collection of short essays available online.

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