Pam Mandel

in conversation with Lavinia Spalding

Recorded Sunday, November 15th, 2020

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Pam Mandel in conversation with Lavinia Spalding

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Pam Mandel ‘s new memoir, The Same River Twice: A Memoir of Dirtbag Backpackers, Bomb Shelters and Bad Travel is a thrilling account of a life-defining journey from the California suburbs to Israel to the Himalayan peaks and back.

Pam is an acclaimed travel writer from Seattle, Washington where she lives with a small dog and multiple ukuleles. She was an early adopter of blogging as the go-to format for sharing stories about travel, starting her still online blog, Nerd’s Eye View, in 1998. Pam was included in the Best Women’s Travel Writing of 2017 and has won a handful of Solas Best Travel Writing Awards with stories from her blog.

Lavinia Spalding is series editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing, author of Writing Away, and co-author of With a Measure of Grace and This Immeasurable Place. She introduced the e-book edition of Edith Wharton’s classic travelogue, A Motor-Flight Through France, and her work appears in such publications as AFAR, Longreads, Tin House, Yoga JournalSunsetAirBnB magazine, Ms., Post Road, Inkwell, The Bold Italic, WestwaysSan Francisco magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian UK, and has been widely anthologized. Lavinia lives in New Orleans.

“An extraordinary memoir of going away and growing up, The Same River Twice follows Mandel’s tangled journey and shows how travel teaches and changes us, even while it helps us become exactly who we have been all along” – The Same River Twice, Simon and Schuster

A personal note from Pam. 

Sent following her Conversation with Authors session.

Thanks for taking time to join me (and Lavinia Spalding and Don George) at our virtual Book Passage talk about The Same River Twice. I hold out hope for a do-over, when I can see you all in person, when we can talk about adventures face to face, and when we can have new adventures. Until that time, I’m walking my dog, reading in my jammies (more on that in a sec), and doing my best to keep my community safe. 

There are a few things I’ve read this year that have stuck with me long after the last page. 

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a novel about a Hawaiian family, full of love and pain and such rich characters, and while it’s full of magic realism, it also portrays Hawaii in the most clear-eyed “this is Hawaii right now” way I’ve ever read. 

Stay and Fight is the story of a handful of outcasts in Appalachia who build a home — and a family — out of a staggering amount of grit.

Pin Ups is a very fast read about why representation matters for women and minorities in outdoor sports

I had the pleasure of co-teaching with the poet Gary Copeland Lilley earlier this year; The Hog Killing is his most recent work and the words feel like there’s music underneath them. 

It’s good to cook the cuisine of far away places when you can’t travel; I’ve been feeding myself from The Chilean Kitchen. Make the “pantrucas” — it’s easy and such good winter food.

About those jammies: I’d told friends on Facebook and Twitter I’d show up for this event in my jammies if we raised $500 for Fair Fight, an organization founded by Stacey Abrams to fight voter suppression. Donations surpassed my goal, hence the flannels — and pearls, as it was a festive occasion!.Getting the vote out still matters, even with the presidential election behind us. All travel is political, our passports and our borders are defined by politics, and it’s important to participate fully in the world we want to explore. 

Books will get us through this winter. Get into your jammies and curl up with a good read. 

– Pam Mandel