This is the fifth in my occasional series of “Books on the Horizon” – travelogues I dream of researching and writing, though probably never will. My “Books on the Horizon” are an exercise in creativity, idle whimsy and – through any reactions I get – testing the water.
The Last of the Mullets. Though maybe this is two books.
THE ELEVATOR PITCH
Finishing off those blasted mullets.
THE “OVER A DRINK” PITCH
For anyone who has read to the end of my second (and, so far, final) mullet book, The Return of the Mullet Hunter, you’ll know that there is something of a cliffhanger, with me left uncertain as to whether or not to continue with my hunt for places around the world with the word “mullet” in their name.
With the exception of my decision to add nothing new to the list of mullets and stick with the twenty-eight I know of, nothing has changed since that day. It’s in many ways an unsatisfying and abrupt ending. I even had one experienced writer tell me, prior to TROTMH’s publication, that I should change the ending. However, that would have been dishonest. To all intents and purposes, I am still stuck on that cliffhanger.
The mullet adventures have gone into abeyance since my last trip in 2008, mainly due to life taking new directions and my total uncertainty and increasing ambivalence about whether and how I can complete the mission.
However, those mullets yet to be visited (see the map on this page) remain a compelling collection. The ones scattered across the USA bring to mind an exciting and lengthy road or rail trip in one of the world’s great (in every sense) countries, from near the Great Lakes to backwaters of Florida.
There will be plenty other enticing and beautiful places to tick off, such as across the Caribbean or the Falkland Islands. Standing out among them is Mullet in Haiti, a country which in recent years has – to put it mildly – not exactly boasted the finest tourism infrastructure. I’ve been quite captivated by the challenge Haiti would represent – logistically, culturally and emotionally, though research has shown me that there is an emerging tourism industry and some amazing things to explore around the country’s tragic but rich, unique and fascinating history.
Throughout the mullet mission so far there has been a drift from the fun and the whimsy to a serious appreciation of what are often far-flung, rarely visited and hauntingly beautiful places, and I think the remaining destinations would fit into that well. I’m over a decade older than when I did my first mullet trip, and hopefully a lot wiser too, so I think I would write about the places I visit well.
Hopefully that’s obvious! I can’t imagine anyone else in their right mind wanting to visit all these places, and it would be a natural continuation of how I first got into travel writing for me to finish the mission. In many ways, and forgive the use of the third person here, this book or two would be classic Varwell – getting me back into big overseas adventures, with a mix of light humour and serious observation that I would enjoy writing.
WHAT WOULD I BE MOST HOPEFUL OF?
Deriving huge enjoyment from an epic series of journeys across the world. I’d love to go back to see more of the USA’s vast empty spaces and open roads, and think that exploring the distractions, stories and side roads along the way could be a particularly strong feature of the book.
WHAT WOULD I BE MOST FEARFUL OF?
Not remotely enjoying Haiti, and having a serious sense of guilt from visiting it on the basis of an almost insultingly silly whim.
Also, of being rather bored with the whole mullet thing.
WHAT WOULD I NEED TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
A lot! I’d not want to rush any of these trips, especially the USA mullets which I could imagine comfortably taking two or three months to do. The trip may require a couple of separate journeys in order to balance the rest of my life and create coherent legs to the research. If was to do it all in as short a space of time as possible then I think four or five months would be reasonable. A very rough budget for the travels would surely be in the region of about ten to twenty thousand pounds.
HOW LIKELY AM I TO WRITE IT?
I can say with near total certainty that this book or two will not happen. Although I am immensely proud of my two mullet books so far, it’s been over five years since my last trip, I’ve changed in that time and so has the direction of my writing, meaning that acquiring the huge amounts of time and money I’d need simply cannot be a priority for me right now.
Mind you, if you gave me twenty grand and told me to do it, I’m sure I could set to work.
What do you think? Is this a book you’d like to read? Let me know in the comments below. And read the rest of my series of Books on the Horizon here.