Quite Alone: Journalism From the Middle East 2008–2019
By Matthew Teller
Independently published, 2021
Reviewed by J. Trevor Williams on August 25, 2021
Headlines imply that the Middle East is all desert and discord. Matthew Teller explodes this myth in his collection of essays, travelogs and journalism compiled over a decade exploring underlying complexities across 13 countries. The title, inspired by a travel quote, is constructively deceptive, as Teller rarely lets his own voice take over. He allows scientists, Bedouins, chefs, designers, academics, artists and others create their own mosaic of a region where culture transcends borders and history easily shines through the screen of modernity. Landscape descriptions illustrate Teller’s singular lens, helping the reader appreciate desert hues and astounding biodiversity. Similarly, detailed insight permeates works on baboons in Saudi Arabia, Petra’s holy peaks in Jordan, frankincense in Oman, religion in Dubai and transnational efforts to preserve the oryx, an antelope threatened by development. Published amid isolation, the book provides a roadmap for traveling transcendently by prioritizing people and their stories.