Trans-Siberian : By Bart Schaneman, 84 pgs. By Kurt

Jan 21, 2013

Ever since I heard Henry Rollins tell the story about his trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, I’ve been interested in doing the same journey. Therefore, I was keen to hear of Bart Schaneman’s experience. He started his trip in China, passed through Mongolia, around LakeBaikal, and eventually spent time in Moscow before making his final trek to St. Petersburg, Russia. Schaneman tells his story in a very matter-of-fact way. It reads much like a journal. Case in point: here is a list of things Schaneman ate and drank on his trip: hot pork dumplings, beer, vodka, green tea, manhattans, dumpling soup, fish, bullfrog, snake, cucumbers, bok choy, tofu, coriander, rice, bread, jam, cabbage salad, potatoes and gravy, and blackberry bread. And that’s just material I culled from the first half of this novella. He doesn’t deviate much from what happened. There are very few asides where Schaneman looks inward and reflects on larger issues in his life or what he is feeling and how he is affected by what he has seen or done. In many ways, it was hard to make a connection to the author and understand who he was and how he developed throughout this experience. If one wants to get a basic idea of what it is like to travel the Trans-Siberian, staying at hostels, and meeting locals along the way, then this is certainly worthwhile reading. But it’s hard to believe such an adventure wouldn’t have drawn out more of an emotional reaction that the author would have wanted to express on the page. –Kurt Morris (Punch Drunk Press, 1075 Reed Ave., SD, CA 92109)

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