A celebration of Scottish life and spirited endorsement of the unexpected discoveries to be made through good travel and good literature
Whisky, Kilts, and the Loch Ness Monster is a memoir of a twenty-first-century literary pilgrimage to retrace the famous eighteenth-century Scottish journey of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, two of the most celebrated writers of their day. William W. Starr enlivens this crisply written travelogue with a playful wit, an enthusiasm for all things Scottish, the boon and burden of American sensibility, and an ardent appreciation for Boswell and Johnson—who make frequent cameos throughout these ramblings.
In 1773 the sixty-three-year-old Johnson was England's preeminent man of letters, and Boswell, some thirty years Johnson's junior, was on the cusp of achieving his own literary celebrity. For more than one hundred days, the distinguished duo toured what was then largely unknown Scottish terrain, later publishing their impressions of the trip in a pair of classic journals. In 2007 Starr embarked on a three-thousand-mile trek through the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, following the path—though in reverse—of Boswell and Johnson. He recorded a wealth of keen observations on his encounters with people and places, lochs and lore, castles and clans, fables and foibles. Starr couples his contemporary commentary with passages from Boswell's and Johnson's published accounts, letters, and diaries to weave together a cohesive travel guide to the Scotland of yore and today. This is a celebration of Scottish life and a spirited endorsement of the wondrous, often unexpected discoveries to be made through good travel and good writing.
William W. Starr has been executive director of the Georgia Center for the Book in Decatur since 2003. Starr is the author of Southern Writers and A Guide to South Carolina Beaches, an associate editor for The South Carolina Encyclopedia, and a contributing essayist for many newspapers and journals.
"This book is outright hilarious. . . . It's Bill Bryson funny. It's Sedaris funny. . . . At times it's as if Ziggy went on a road trip."—George Singleton, author of The Half-Mammals of Dixie
"This book is a delight—historically sweeping, informative, and crisply written. From an informed American perspective, he blends hilarious and droll reflections on Scotland's history and culture with an affectionate and insightful tracking of the footsteps of Boswell and Johnson."—Peter Martin, prize-winning biographer of Boswell and Johnson
"A delightful book . . . fascinating reading. . . . His accounts of wherever he stopped are all worth reading, and on occasion the quality of his prose approaches—if this is not heretical to say—that of the two masters of the English language whose journey he is replicating."—Washington Times
"This is a one-of-a-kind travel book . . . a fine narrative. . . . Starr is a distinctly offbeat character, if not quite a weirdo, and a born entertainer. . . . His beguiling light touch inhabits every page."—Atlanta Journal Constitution