Journalist and travel writer. Travelocity magazine, inaugural editor-in-chief; American Way, senior travel editor until 1997, then contributing editor. Worked variously as an ESL instructor, disc jockey, and assistant sergeant of arms in the Alaska House of Representatives.
(Editor) Alan S. Davis, The Fun Seeker's North America: The Ultimate Travel Guide to the Most Fun Events & Destinations, 2nd edition, Greenline (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
The 25 Best World War II Sites: European Theater: The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Battlefields, Monuments and Museums, Greenline (San Francisco, CA), 2004, 2nd edition, 2007.
Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer, Holt Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic, Esquire, National Geographic Adventure, Escape, and Maxim.
Chuck Thompson is a journalist and travel writer. He served as the first editor-in-chief of Travelocity magazine and has contributed to a number of periodicals on travel subjects, including Atlantic, Esquire, National Geographic Adventure, Escape, and Maxim. Thompson served as the senior travel editor with American Way magazine until 1997 and later became a contributing editor for the periodical. Aside from writing, Thompson has worked a number of other random jobs, including as an instructor of English as a second language, a disc jockey, and an assistant sergeant of arms in the Alaska House of Representatives in the state where he grew up.
Thompson edited The Fun Also Rises Travel Guide North America: The Most Fun Places to Be at the Right Time in 1999. The book highlights a number of popular festivals and parties held around cities in North America. Thompson provides active travelers the resources to go from one event to the next throughout the year, including information on accommodation, food, and entertainment in the host city.
Kathleen A. Shanahan, reviewing the book in Library Journal, found the account to be "quite comprehensive." Shanahan was critical, however, in pointing out the book's "problematic" organization. Shanahan noted that its chronological order would not appease everyone and could make it difficult for some to search for the parts interesting to them, adding that the information is "scattered by the use of boxes, sidebars, and special sections for explanations."
In 2007 Thompson published Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer. The memoir grew from Thompson's lack of appreciation for his travel stories being censored by editors who were rounding the rough edges and grittiness of his experiences and reshaping the article to better feature the sponsors of the travel article. Thompson describes his mishaps and unique experiences across the continents and provides insight into the art of traveling and engaging with people from a culture different to one's own.
Henry Alford, writing in the New York Times Book Review, found that "anyone who's read anything written under the aegis of the place they're visiting … will find Thompson's mandate refreshing." Also writing in the New York Times Book Review, William Grimes described the account as "a savagely funny act of revenge for years spent servicing the travel fantasies of gullible readers." Grimes pointed out that "a cloud of guilt envelops Mr. Thompson as he writes, conscious that he and his travel-porn colleagues have strip mined the earth of its most precious resource: pleasant, undiscovered destinations." Grimes mentioned that "his personal encounters with the dark side of travel carry the book, which is more memoir than exposé. He has suffered greatly, but pain only makes him laugh, even when it's a dense carpet of ants crawling up his legs in a squalid Brazilian hotel room." Booklist contributor Jerry Eberle noted that Thompson's approach to giving his travel experiences "straight," without adding frilliness or censoring out reality, "works beautifully." Eberle wrote that readers "will recognize an authentic voice on the subject of travel when they encounter it" in Thompson's account. A contributor to Publishers Weekly observed that Smile When You're Lying is "an engagingly personal narrative." The same contributor noted that "Thompson slashes through the cliches of the travel industry's snake-oil salesmen with unmitigated glee." A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews remarked that "the book is hampered by a scattershot structure." However, the same critic praised the writing for being "provocative and thoroughly engaging, with a manic liveliness."
Thompson commented on the mixed reviews in an interview in Brave New Traveler in early 2008. Thompson stated: "The thing most interviewers and reviewers have focused on with this book is my critique of the travel-writing racket. That's understandable, but the book is really more of a memoir masquerading as a travel book." Continuing, Thompson noted that his "primary goal was always to make it funny, entertaining. And what entertains me is humor, opinion, insight, solid anecdotes, and maybe a few poignant moments. Everyday while writing I asked myself, ‘Is this funny?’ And if it wasn't, it was gone, even if I'd spent weeks or even months refining it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Thompson, Chuck, Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer, Holt Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.
Booklist, September 15, 2007, Jerry Eberle, review of Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer, p. 24.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007, review of Smile When You're Lying.
Library Journal, February 15, 1999, Kathleen A. Shanahan, review of The Fun Also Rises Travel Guide North America: The Most Fun Places to Be at the Right Time, p. 174.
Military History, December 1, 2007, review of The 25 Best World War II Sites: European Theater: The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Battlefields, Monuments and Museums.
New York Times Book Review, December 2, 2007, Henry Alford, review of Smile When You're Lying; December 19, 2007, William Grimes, review of Smile When You're Lying.
Publishers Weekly, September 10, 2007, review of Smile When You're Lying, p. 47.
Brave New Traveler,http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/ (January 17, 2008), author interview.
Chuck Thompson Home Page,http://www.chuckthompsonbooks.com (July 1, 2008).
Gadling,http://www.gadling.com/ (December 31, 2007), Abha Malpani, author interview.