Into Thick Air
Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents
By Jim Malusa
(Sierra Club Books, Paperback, 9781578051410, 336pp.)
Publication Date: April 2008
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With plenty of sunscreen and a cold beer swaddled in his sleeping bag, writer and botanist Jim Malusa bicycled alone to the lowest point on each of six continents, a six-year series of anti-expeditions” to the anti-summits.” His journeys took him to Lake Eyre in the arid heart of Australia, along Moses’ route to the Dead Sea, and from Moscow to the Caspian Sea. He pedaled across the Andes to Patagonia, around tiny Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and from Tucson to Death Valley. With a scientist’s eye, he vividly observes local landscapes and creatures. As a lone man, he is overfed by grandmothers, courted by ladies of the night in Volgograd, invited into a mosque by Africa’s most feared tribe, chased by sandstorms and hurricanes yet Malusa keeps riding. His reward: the deep silence of the world’s great depressions. A large-hearted narrative of what happens when a friendly, perceptive American puts himself at the mercy of strange landscapes and their denizens, Into Thick Air presents one of the most talented new voices in contemporary travel writing.
[H]is descriptions of desert landscapes can be extraordinary. You can almost feel the dry gusts turning Malusa’s lips into cracked leather.” NY Times Book Review
Malusa’s intrepid curiosity enlivens his over-the-road tales.” Booklist
It's unlikely that biking to the lowest places on Earth will earn him a mention in history books. But he is a great storyteller.” Globe and Mail