Thomas Swick Articles

Down Argentine Way

The continental charms of Buenos Aires.
Feb 08, 2016

The old droll definition of an Argentine—an Italian who speaks Spanish, lives in a French house, and thinks he's an English gentleman—does not appear anywhere in Buenos Aires: The Biography of a City. James Gardner's history of the Argentine capital is a serious work that, inevitably, brings that assessment frequently to mind.

An art, architecture, and culture critic, and frequent contributor to these pages, Gardner traveled to Buenos Aires for the first time in 1999 and—like many visitors—fell under its spell, a great part of which has to do with its extreme unlikeliness. For it is a European city set down improbably in the Western Hemisphere.

 Read more

All Booked Up

At the end of life, reading as therapy.
Aug 24, 2015

All writers begin as readers, and the majority, the ones worth reading, continue life as more prolific readers than writers—especially, it seems, as they age.

 Read more

Too Much Sunshine

The quick, easy search for unconventional Florida.
Mar 10, 2014

It is occasionally noted that Florida has replaced California as the legitimate home of the nation’s nuts, but what is left unmentioned is that Floridians, unlike Californians, embrace the title—sort of the way England cherishes its eccentrics, though they are generally a more lovable group. 

 Read more

The Gateway City

Why the tip of Morocco is a magnet for writers.
Dec 30, 2013

Oh, the writers! They came to Tangier in boatloads, getting—many of them—their first taste of Africa and Islam. Though over time, the great allure of Tangier for writers became other writers. 

 Read more

Down the Boot

Understanding Italy, one train at a time.
Aug 12, 2013

Tim Parks has followed in that predominantly British literary tradition of making another country one’s home and then making that home one’s principal subject. Gerald Brenan chose Spain; Lawrence Durrell and Patrick Leigh Fermor shared Greece; William Dalrymple has claimed India. For the last three decades, Parks—with books like Italian Neighbors, A Season with Verona, Medici Money, and a number of novels—has taken it upon himself to explain Italy to the English-speaking world.

 Read more

Getting There

How, and why, Americans go on vacation.
Apr 01, 2013

Booked for Travel

How going places leads to the printed page.
Jul 02, 2012


We all know that books are vessels, transporting us to other worlds. Less celebrated is how travel, our real-life discovery of the world, leads us to books. 

I’m not talking about airport novels. I am always struck not just by the large number of passengers who don’t read—all those people staring not even into space (which would be understandable, given the circumstances) but into the seat backs in front of them—but by travelers who read books that have no connection to where they’re going. 

 Read more

Road to Rome

The superhighway that connected, and consolidated, the Empire.
Mar 19, 2012

There are roads that are as storied as rivers, though the reasons for their notoriety are much more varied. The Silk Road (which was really a collection of roads) stands forever as a conduit, of goods and ideas, between East and West. The Tokaido lives on, in the prints of Hiroshige, as a pastoral passageway connecting Kyoto to Edo. South Asia’s Grand Trunk Road—of which Kipling wrote, “such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world”—is famous today for being if anything even more manic. Route 66, though decades defunct, remains a symbol of Americans’ love affair with the automobile, and our 20th-century

 Read more

Getting There

When the going gets tough, the world beckons.
Jul 25, 2011


A Love Affair
with Five Continents

by Elisabeth Eaves

 Read more

Poets of Mobility

The beckoning world, and closing ranks, of travel writers.
Jul 04, 2011

Last year I gave a reading in New York City, and talking to people afterwards I was struck by how many were also travel writers, or at least survivors of a travel-writing course. It was refreshing to be around literate travelers. At home in Florida I usually address seniors, who like to ask me about cruise lines.

 Read more

Thinking Lunar

Humans by the light of the silvery moon.
Mar 14, 2011


A Journey in Search
of Moonlight

 Read more