Smile When You're Lying by Chuck Thompson

Smile When You're Lying

From Bangkok to Bogotá, a hilarious behind-the-brochures tour of picture-perfect locales, dangerous destinations, and overrated hellholes from a guy who knows the truth about travelTravel writer, editor, and photographer Chuck Thompson has spent more than a decade traipsing through thirty-five (and counting) countries across the globe, and he's had enough. Enough of the half-truths demanded by magazine editors, enough of the endlessly recycled c...

Details Smile When You're Lying

TitleSmile When You're Lying
Release DateNov 27th, 2007
PublisherHenry Holt & Company
GenreTravel, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Writing, Essays, Humor, Adventure

Reviews Smile When You're Lying

  • Mateo
    Thompson's a smart and funny writer with some excellent and funky travel stories, a jaundiced worldview, and precious little respect for sacred cows. So points for that. But the book's basically a concatenation of what-shall-I-piss-on-now rants wrapped in lad-magazine snarkiness. Here's a short list, from memory, of some of the things that Thompson dislikes: travel magazines, feminists, Dallas, Eric Clapton, travel writers, expats, locals, the Ca...
  • Anne Walbridge
    Felt like being stuck in some sweaty tropical dive bar, sticky counter and all, trapped next to some guy trying way too hard to be cool.
  • Amanda L
    In sum: disparaging remarks about nearly every region the world, replete with reductionist stereotyping. Sure, you'll laugh of loud, but it might be followed by an immense shame that you're eating up a racist's (is he? or is he just too consumed with his grandiose ego to realize when a joke is about to cross a very definitive line? still can't say) generalizations. Is it any wonder that his grand conclusion is that Belgium, one of the more racist...
  • Valerie
    Insights into the life of a travel writer. The real reason they travel, someone is paying them. One of my favorite bits was about the fallacy of taxi drivers as people who know what's going on in any city. However, he kept alluding to travel writing as that glossy magazine sell you something kind of writing, and I don't read much of that. Almost all of the travel writing I read Bryson, Cahill, O'Hanolan, Salzman, O'Rourke, Bass is of the more per...
  • Wendy Baxter
    Who knew that the best travel experiences and therefore the best travel writing consist primarily in the amount of booze, blow and blow jobs to be had? Not only that, but apparently this makes for authentic travel writing and anyone not including these things is obviously blowing sunshine up the reader's ass. And here I thought all along travel and travel writing was all about beauty and education. Silly me. And no, I didn't bother finishing this...
  • Geoff Carter
    Here's the deal: Chuck Thompson has spent years writing freelance travel stories for The Atlantic, Esquire, Maxim and the like, and over the course of these 322 pages, he burns it all down. Early on, he sets up this collection of (true, but no doubt embellished) anecdotes by telling you that he's going to share all the travel stories that the Conde Nast crowd isn't ready to hear; what he ends up doing is telling you about his druggy coming-of-age...
  • Pete
    In many ways, I am the sort of writer that this book is lampooning. I've trotted out clichés and purple prose for luxury travel brochures for the past six years. I try not to, but as Thompson neatly puts it:'A big problem with travel writers is that they're all essentially required to share the same opinion about everything [due to the increasing need to sell first and inform second]. As a result, their copy tends to be defined by how many cleve...
  • Lisa Schmeiser
    It says something about our world when a travel book published in 2008 feels like a quaint relic of an earlier era -- but this one does. Perhaps it's because so many of Thompson's essays are linked to his travels and experiences in the 1990s, and that truly is an era of travel we're never going to get back in this world of tiny bottles and shoeless security checks.Still, this book has glimmers of potential: Thompson almost has the Joe Queenan kna...
  • M G
    I enjoyed the first half of the book but honestly by the second half I was bored. I finished it for the sake of finishing it but struggled to do so. I'm not sure if it was because I wanted the big overarching narrative/quest for meaning that he clearly states he won't give, or the fact that I wanted more of an expose on the travel industry and less of a personal narrative, or because I found his narrative self-indulgent, either way, it wasn't my ...
  • YoSafBridg
    I almost put down Chuck Thompson's smile when you're lying: confessions of a rogue travel writer before i was 50 pages into it with the intention of never finishing it (which is something i rarely do~sometimes i will put down a book with every intention of finishing it and not ever doing so but for some reason i often plow through many as i ended up doing with this one~and there were a few interesting parts~more than a few in actuality...) It was...
  • Miramira Endevall
    This is one of the most whiny travelogues I've ever read. Does Thompson honestly believe that travelers buy into all the hoak printed in travel magazines, or in (gods forbid) in-flight magazines? Okay, sure, he was forced to regurgitate idiotic platitudes when writing for such magazines, and the poor boy only traveled to certain places because be was being paid to do it. But for crying out loud, dude, you were PAID TO TRAVEL. In every job I've ev...
  • Jennifer
    Certainly, I am not nearly as much of a seasoned travel writer as Mr. Thompson (its been two years for me) but I still found many reasons to disagree with him on a variety of points, mainly in his use of so many generalizations. Like, the entire Caribbean sucks. Thompson says this then forces the reader to slog through his interrogation of a colleague who writes about Caribbean travel. It is painful. Also, the Caribbean doesn't suck, St. John is ...
  • Rich Saskal
    "Smile When You're Lying" is a memoir by veteran travel writer Chuck Thompson pitched as a takedown exposé of the travel writing genre.While Thompson's cynical gonzo persona itself comes across as much of a cliche as the many travel writing cliches he mocks, the proof is on the page, and I kept turning them.After reading Thompson's own deflation of some of the common rubrics of the travel -writing trade, I can't be sure if any of the tales he te...
  • Catherine
    By Thompson's own admission, on page 208 he writes, "I'm not, as a rule, what's known as a "charmer" with the ladies." In my estimation, that's an understatement. Thompson muses about his pals' bad behavior but consistently claims to have shied away from any transgressions himself. Yeah, right. I found his writing to be not only crass, but also disjointed at times and peppered with unimportant digressions. There were a few stories referring to sp...
  • Betsy
    I would like to rate this book at least a 4; it brings to life a world of travel that magazines and guidebooks just don't. Here we get the inside scoop of why we hear the stories that we do, and why we don't hear the stories we don't. Confessions... is an engrossing tale for adventurous travelers as well as writers or wannabes (like me). My problem, then? This book is grossly objectifying of women. I gave it measurable latitude, too, because he w...
  • Laura
    I would probably give this book 2.5 stars if I had that option, but I do think it deserves more than 2 stars. I didn't care for the beginning of this book at all, since it focused on the Thai sex trade, and reading about women having to (choosing to??) degrade themselves by catering to horny jerks with money to blow is not at all appealing to me. But other parts of the book were better. Thompson does come off as somewhat arrogant and condescendin...
  • Kathleen Seal
    Satirical, but honest, exploration of the travel industry-both myths and realities. Often hysterical accounts of his travel experiences around the world (although some not so funny at the time, I imagine). A few helpful hints to snooker the travel industry are thrown in along the way. Highly recommended for anyone who travels or is thinking about traveling abroad.
  • Laura
    I really wanted to like this, but the guy came across as such a douchebag so much of the time. So self-important, so often condescending, it just irritated me. Sure, he has some sage advice and, yes, he gives some honest insight about travel writers and locales, but overall I just didn't care for the book as a whole. I finished it, though, so that says something, I suppose.
  • Darcie
    Thanks to this very good read, I will now plan a trip to Columbia before I plan a trip to Jamaica, will think twice about buying a Lonely Planet guide book, and yes, I will lie and bribe when overseas.
  • John
    There's some reedeeming value here -- but not too much; crude language and constant drug references abound. Not particularly recommended.
  • Eh?Eh!
    eh. the synopsis was deceiving, implying there would be stories of the travel-underbelly. nope, or rather, not much of interest. lots of complaining, lots of reflection on the travel industry.
  • Jeff Ereverock
    Travel industry whistle-blower, C. Thompson, sounds this piercing faith-in-humanity shrill: travel writers, as a rule, are a loathsome lot of sell-outs. Who knew?
  • Jenna
    This travelogue is slightly different in that it is not one lateral story, but a compilation of many little stories from decades of travelling and the author being forced to repress some of the grittier stories he'd experienced.  The most interesting stories, naturally.I was pleasantly surprised to discover, after having just lived for six months in Juneau, Alaska, that the author, Chuck Thompson, was born and raised there. He shared some storie...
  • Christopher Fox
    This is genial writing with a sting. When the blurb says "pulls no punches" it ain't kidding because Thompson has an acerbic wit and enjoys lampooning everything that needs to be in his opinion. Certainly none of the regular tourist industry writers/publishers are immune and neither are the usual suspects (grandiose places with little reason to be exclusive) but he also shows his humanity in descrying the obvious disparity between luxury so osten...
  • Kerry Pickens
    I bought this book for 50 cents at a thrift store, and although it was a bit dated it is still laugh out loud funny. Chuck Thompson talks about growing up in Juneau and the city evolving from a sleepy town to a tourist attraction. I understand the feeling having watched that happen to my hometown of Austin, TX. Chuck is a travel writer, but a brutally honest one which I appreciate. Even your bad experiences can be funny later, such as his trip to...
  • Matt
    Here's the thing -- he's not wrong about the travel writing industry basically being an advertising arm of the tourism industry. It's just that the tourism advertising industry also exploits these kind of edgy, Hunter S. Thompson-esque confessionals to get people to travel places, too. It's just a different face targeted at a different audience. He's still part of the same machine, even though he's being "honest."With all that said, I enjoyed thi...
  • Lisa Bricker
    This book, despite the fact that's very funny and sharp as a knife, is an acquired taste. I almost put it down after the first 20ish pages simply because he spares NO ONE and it starts to get downright uncomfortable and one-sided. But I kept reading and I'm glad I did because either I got used to it or the stories started to round out and I could see more nuance. If I was to travel to a country I've never been to before and could choose a compani...
  • Mindy
    This was ok, I guess. The travel blog that had recommended it said it was the funniest book on travel they had read. From that assessment, I would think other travel books must be pretty dull then. I went in with expectations set way too high. Some stories were interesting or a little funny. A few “words of wisdom” (we’ll call it) at the end were good points. It was fine while reading but right after closing the book, I really couldn’t ev...
  • Emily
    Arrogant, but relatable in the times he is sharing stories and not just criticizing or making misogynistic or generalist remarks.
  • Amanda Santos
    Awesome book, and the closest writing to Hunter S. Thompson that I've ever read. Definitely intrigued me in regards to the travel industry.