Friday, February 22, 2013

Artful Readers Club February - America Unchained by Dave Gorman

Another month, another book :)

This month I've been reading America Unchained by comedian Dave Gorman:

The plan was simple. Go to America. Buy a second-hand car. Drive coast-to-coast without giving any money to "The Man". What could possibly go wrong?

This was a nice easy book to read - I had picked it up in a charity shop a year or so ago, a safe bet as I had enjoyed his previous books, the one where he travels the world looking for other Dave Gormans, and his Googlewhack adventure.

I didn’t even have the foggiest clue what the book was about, other than it mentioned America and a road trip, and I do love a good road trip tale – I’ve always wanted to do the coast to coast thing in a nice big RV, and visit all the wacky roadside attractions like the world’s biggest ball of string, and of course, being a huge Neil Gaiman fan, the House on the Rock – so that was enough to persuade me to hand over my £1 to the nice little old lady in Oxfam

It wasn’t until I actually picked up the book and started reading it for the Artful Readers Club, that I discovered the underlying basis of the road trip – Dave’s challenge was to drive from coast to coast without giving a penny to the endless procession of faceless multinational corporations and superbrands.  So he could only buy petrol from independent unbranded petrol stations, only sleep in independent unbranded hotels and motels, and only buy food from, you’ve got it, independent and unbranded shops and restaurants.  Mom and Pop businesses only.

I think this would be nigh on impossible in the UK – when was the last time you saw a petrol station that wasn’t an Esso or a Shell or tacked onto a major supermarket?  Or a reasonably priced hotel that wasn’t a Holiday Inn, a Premier Inn or a Travelodge? OK I guess you’d be alright in seaside towns where there are plenty of independent B&Bs ….. but it definitely wouldn’t be easy

And to be fair it was nigh on impossible in America too – although he made a jolly good go of it.   Overall the story of the highs and lows of the journey makes great reading, you truly empathise with the author when everything goes horribly wrong, and celebrate with him when his luck improves.

The only downside to the book was that there were very few photos, just a couple in the middle, and I would have liked to see more of the interesting people and locations the author described as he encountered them along the way - but maybe that was a deliberate marketing ploy as it has spurred me to purchase the DVD of the accompanying TV show :)  I'm glad I read the book first though, as it goes into much more detail than the one hour documentary.

On to my arty interpretation for this month, I decided to illustrate a favourite quote from the book:

"You don't need a convertible to feel the wind in your hair.  You don't even need wind.  Or hair.  It's not a physical sensation.  It's a state of mind"

Acrylics and watercolour over a background of torn maps to represent the road trip undertaken in the book.  The inspiration for the windswept lady was a painting I saw on Etsy by fashion illustrator Cate Parr.

I have already started reading next month's book - Heart Shaped Box by Stephen King's son Joe Hill.  He has definitely inherited the scare-them-stupid gene from his dad, it's so creepy I can't even read it in bed for fear of nightmares!  I'll see you next month with my full review and some spooky artwork.....


Jez said...

That sounds a good read, and i enjoyed both the review and the way you wrote it - very readable too.
So I'll look out for that on Kindle.
Love the girl with the flaming hair, and the background of torn maps.

Gina said... going to have to read the Joe Hill novel now :D
Love the unusual theme to this book review, and your art work is just fantastic! I think we could all do with a bit of that "wind in your hair" feeling :D XXX

San @ Made in Hem said...

Can you only paint hair like that or are you perhaps a hairdresser too? I want that gorgeous, windswept, fun and bright hair!!!!! Now, please! :)
The book sounds like fun and quite a challenge. I might pick it up and read it when I stumble across it one day! ♥

Shirley said...

Dave Gorman doesn't take the easy path in life does he!
This book sounds like a great read of his adventures from coast to coast. Doing it without using any of the 'brands' must have been quite a challenge and by the sound of it one he found to be impossible.
Love your lady, those colours in her hair are wonderful and the quote you used from the book works so well with your art.

Darcy Marshall said...

love your windswept lady, her hair is fabulous, and that quote is so true that it is a state of mind.

I havent read the books, but have seen his tv shows, I loved the finding other Daves one.

Unknown said...

I like the sound of your book, But I know we have also been taken over by the big corporation giants (most from america) But I have to say Loved the art work and the quote and the new book sound too scary for me lol Dxx

Jay said...

great piece to go with a good book..

Sabrina said...

Pretty cool idea for the book. So sad how hard those are to find, and we (or I) rarely think about it in my daily life. Love your piece. The colors and motion in her are wonderful!

abby j said...

What a great concept...good review and good art describing the whole idea of the book!! Well done!

Jen said...

Love your journal page, the colours and use of the quote are brilliant. Not an easy task he set himself.
Jen x

Leialoha said...

I just love that true! always wanted to take a coast-coast road trip and stop at all those community antique barns/markets scattered all along the way...Fun! Thank you for this great review and can't wait for your take on Hill's novel.

Karen Isaacson said...

that's a very compelling concept - as someone who has driven coast to coast across the US 3 times, (and who hates corporate America) I move this to the top of my reading list. Love the quote and the way you illustrated it.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I really enjoyed your State of Mind. And that hair nearly jumped off the page when I first saw it. In fact, I thought it was feathers when I first looked at the painting.

I really enjoyed your review. I agree that it is hard to find independent gas stations in the US, although independent motels are more common.

As for Mom and Pop diners, there are still a few of them left: the ones the corporate bullies haven't pushed out. They are, of course, mostly in small towns where big corporations don't bother setting up shop.

So glad you gave this review. It was well worth reading, I'm sure. I really liked your take on it, and thought you made a good case for Britain, and for the good old US (where I live), too.

And thanks for stopping by. Sweet of you, since this is my first visit here.

Janet said...

Loved your review and your journal page is brilliant. Nothing like being fancy free.

Janet xx

Šolanje na domu-Waldorf said...

I totally love your portrait on the map. :) Loved your review!

Tracey FK said...

This sounds like it would be an interesting read... and it would be hard to do it in Australia as well as we are rapidly losing independent petrol stations especially, though we still have lots of independent motels and shops and food outlets ... loved thew artwork... you captured that feeling of the wind in your hair perfectly...xx

Catie Cuddles said...

Given that I had seen the documentary I was really interested how the book was. I adore Dave Gorman so will be adding the book to my growing list of must reads!

Love your artwork... Stunning image you have painted and it suits the quote perfectly!


SusieJ said...

Another book to add to my ever growing've made it sound such fun!
And the artwork is stunning...I too could do with that feeling...
Hugs xx

Virginia said...

I'm with Susie on this one, very likely to be on my list of future reads, sounds like a fab book and adore the artwork!

Carmen Wing said...

I can tell you the last time I saw one of those garages. Our last trip up to Scotland, on what feels like the longest stretch of road in the world (the A92 or the A292 or something like that) and not a single flipping petrol station. We realised about half way along it that we weren't going to make it the other half and had to pull off into this tiny one street town where we had to sit on a tiny petrol forecourt and actually wait for them to open at 7am. We went and had the most expensive scrambled eggs on toast we've ever had at this tiny little hotel over the road while we waited :P

It sounds a fabulous book and I really love your art work. I only just finished mine yesterday and have yet to complete my art. For someone whose art I really love - the book hasn't inspired me at all :(

Teri said...

What a beautiful piece of art for a really cool quote! Love it!

Kerry said...

Sounds like a great read.

Your artwork is, as always, amazing.

Maz said...

Sounds like my sort of book - I'll have to look out for it. Love your artwork - her hair is fabulous. And March's book sounds like my sort too!