“Before setting out this year, put a copy of Curtis Gillespie’s Almost There: The Family Vacation, Then and Now in your glove compartment or your carry-on. Better yet, give it a read well before you plan your next family trip. You’ll find yourself laughing aloud (as I did, sitting alone at Pearson International Airport, waiting for a flight) at the sometimes gross hilarity that ensued on his family trips. But you’ll also find yourself thinking about his messages and what they say about you as a parent, and what you hope to get from your family holidays.”
-The Globe and Mail
We all have memories of family vacations: the cross-country marathon drive, the camping trip, a couple lazy weeks at the lake, a helter-skelter month in Europe, four days in Disneyland. The variations may be endless, but the common denominator is that there are always stories to tell.
The family vacation, with all its funny, sad, relaxing, stressful, frustrating, and exhilarating moments, shapes us, and helps us create an understanding of who we are and of those we travel with. In his humourous new book, Almost There, award-winning writer Curtis Gillespie explores the meaning of our family vacations, the memories created by them, and how we use these memories to define our relationship with our families and ourselves.
Using his own history of family vacations as a backdrop, Gillespie explores how the meaning and symbolism of the family vacation has shifted throughout the decades. For years, families drove across the country or relaxed at a lakeside cottage. Now even the middle-class travel with their nannies or go on a Disney cruise…or take their nannies with them on a Disney cruise. As he sifts through memories and explores family vacation history, Gillespie ultimately discovers that not only is how we choose to vacation an expression of who we are as individual families, but that the very nature of the family vacation reflects, and sometimes even predicts, societal change.
The family vacation is something we all share; the laughter, the tears, the moments, the memories. In Almost There, Curtis Gillespie reminds us how important these moments in our lives are, and how important they will continue to be.
“Interweaving his family’s history of vacations with the history of the family vacations, Curtis Gillespie’s Almost There is by turns illuminating, thought-provoking, hair-raising, and hilarious. I found myself along for the ride and laughing out loud (and reading one priceless passage after another to my wife) whether Mr. Gillespie was describing a car trip from Calgary to Mexico, almost being swallowed by quicksand in a meteor crater, cheating death in a hot air balloon, or wittily dissecting the meaning of cruise-ship lineups. Truly a refreshing vacation from everyday writing.”
-David Eddie, author of House Broken: Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Dad
“Curtis Gillespie is a beautiful writer, with an exquisite touch reminiscent of John Updike.”
“What are we really looking for when we attempt the ‘family vacation’? Curtis Gillespie explores this perilous experience with the sort of humour and insight that can only be gained by having driven 6,000 kilometers in the back seat of a station wagon headed for Mexico, with five siblings. Almost There is a comic and insightful exploration into the enduring folly of the family vacation. Add this to your packing list, along with Gravol.”
-Marni Jackson, author of The Mother Zone
“Gillespie is an entertaining and effortless memoirist — he has that profession’s unique ability to remember grammatically perfect conversations from every thematically convenient time in his life — but he is at his best here when he is sifting through what it all might mean. As he notes, for such an astonishingly regular part of our collective experience, the family vacation is virtually unexplored academically and sociologically, and Gillespie brings welcome insight to why all this might be worth it.”
“Gillespie is not so much trying to plan the perfect vacation as understand why it’s worth taking at all, and his probing and amusing look at holidays should give you plenty to think about while you’re getting there.”
Thomas Allen, Canada, May 2012