Genius loci

[Genius Loci] July 2023

1 July 2023


Summer is in full effect here in Central Florida, which means high humidity, heat, and chances for afternoon thunderstorms. Just this morning, in the shower, I didn’t even turn the hot water knob because the “cold” knob gave me water that was warm enough. After I dried myself off, I began sweating. For the uninitiated, this is not the time to be in Florida.

And yet, it is the time to be in Florida. Having grown up here, I associate summers with running around in the rain, screaming cicadas, the calming rumble of thunder, petrichor, the taste and smell of water from garden hoses, watermelons, pool parties, happy frogs croaking after storms, ice cream, hot dogs, youth…

What do you associate with the summer?

Now, during the hottest part of the day, I hide inside next to the air conditioner, no less because of the heat than for The Hill of the Skull, which is nearly finished.

What remains of the book? Big, little things: formatting, pre-press prep, and frantic, last-minute edits.

BY THE WAY: I’m looking for a few, sharp-eyed readers to preview the book’s Kickstarter campaign and give me feedback. If you’re interested, please reply to this email.

Next month, I will make a few big book announcements:

First, the launch date. Second, details about the book’s extra materials — an Afterword written by one of my favorite authors and a transcribed Conversation I will have with one of my favorite photographers. This book is going to be special.

If you haven’t already, sign up) to get notified when the book launches.

That said, summer is calling, and I have more work to do.1

With every warm regard from Floridaland,


My work

I interviewed Jeff Biggers about his new book In Sardinia on the Travel Writing World podcast. Listen here or in your favorite podcasting app.

I made a YouTube video about how our work impacts our mental health, which includes images I took in Italy a few months ago. I chatted with Neale James on The Photowalk Podcast about this; listen here or in your favorite podcast app.

I also made a second YouTube video about taking field notes with GPS location data on iPhones.

I wrote a short note about creative projects failing on my other email dispatch, Drifting.


National Geographic (USA) lays off its last remaining staff writers, via The Washington Post.

On a (perhaps) related note, Lonely Planet is using its extensive back catalog in a new Artificial Intelligence scheme to, I suppose, generate more travel content. Using for-hire works is perhaps not unethical—it is their property, after all—, but this bulletin on Skift gives us a glimpse into where the industry might go.

The Nan Shepherd Prize has opened submissions for 2023 (until 17 July).

JRNY magazine has started its own prize, the World Travel Photography Awards. Submit now.


Agnes Callard has written a controversial piece for The New Yorker: The Case Against Travel.

Ed Caesar writes about Cormac McCarthy’s narrative wisdom, also in The New Yorker.

Do strangers make the best conversation partners? J.R. Patterson thinks so in his essay for World Literature Today.

Audio & miscellanea

Ryan Murdock speaks with Anthony Sattin about his book Nomads on the Personal Landscapes podcast.

Sophy Roberts speaks with Jon Lee Anderson on Gone to Timbuktu.

That’s it for this month!


  1. I’ve found Austin’s list of summer “unschooling” to be fun. ↩︎