Novelist Ben Batchelder abandoned a cozy corporate career and, instead of returning to the U.S. like a normal re-pat, moved deep into the interior of Brazil. Here, he drives his two-wheel drive station wagon into the Amazon, on the notoriously dangerous Belém-Brasília highway, and back along Brazil’s endless Atlantic Coast, on roads few if any Brazilians brave. Hence the need for such a ferocious breed as Labrador: for protection. Along the way, humorous encounters with countless locals help him to plumb Brazilian culture and history, in many aspects the flip-side of the American experience, and reveal how he fell in love with Brazil’s beguiling warmth in the first place – along with black Labs.
“If you are looking for a primer on big, brash Brazil, this lovely book is for you. In it, Batchelder takes a journey of discovery with his black Lab, traveling the country’s interior and encountering its culture, history, and colorful people. I don’t know of another travel essayist on Brazil who knows the country so intimately. His wry and funny encounters, often provoked by the novelty of a pet dog, remind one of Steinbeck and his Charley. Saudades!”
“Watch out for the potholes! Enough of an outsider to succumb to fearless wanderlust in a dangerous land, enough of an insider to know better, Batchelder is that rarest breed of travel narrator: part intrepid adventurer, part cultural interpreter, full-time storyteller. Taking the reader on a rich, startling odyssey of modern Brazil, To Belém & Back is told with consummate verve, a sly wit, and sumptuous detail of character and place. You’ll find yourself booking a flight – and a car rental – before the tale ends.
“The writing is such a pleasure: vivid, witty, evocative, and erudite. A rare combination!”
Author reads from To Belém & Back, presents a short film, and takes question at the Signet Society, Harvard's premier literary & arts society since 1870.
A reading of To Belém & Back in the state-side cradle of its creation, plus film screening of Tiradentes2Belém.
Aproximately 50 people attend launches/readings in the West Village, Brookline, and Windchester, MA. Black Lab steals show.
Multi-faceted local launch, including photo exhibit, film debut, and book launch
Mega-launch in Coral Gables Museum, Coral Gables, FL
The Wolf Book Club hosted a packed event which included discussion, reading, and the US debut of the film “Tiradentes2 Belém”
The Travel Bug and Earthdog Press hosted a lovely event with a great turnout, double of that a year ago. Thanks to all!