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"
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.....