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Road Scholar: Coast to Coast Late in the Century Hardcover – April 16, 1993

4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Codrescu embraces the tradition of seeking America from the driver's seat. He starts out by saying that "all my life I had two claims to fame: I was born in Transylvania and I didn't drive a car." To make a film, Codrescu loses one of those claims. He takes driving lessons, then tours the country making a film of the America he finds. He sees the Statue of Liberty, a Roller Skating Gospel Rink near Chicago, Sikhs in Albuquerque, and ends in San Francisco's North Beach. His writing is lyrical, insightful, and very original.

From Publishers Weekly

Approached by a TV producer to make a documentary about a drive across the U.S., Codrescu, Rumanian-born poet and commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered , declined. He didn't drive. But after pondering the tradition of American rediscovery by such notables as Walt Whitman, Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac, he took driving lessons and possession of a vintage (1968) red Cadillac convertible and set out to explore an America not on most maps. For him that country stretches from the Nuyorican Cafe on Manhattan's lower East Side, along the "psychic highway" through the land of the Shakers, Mormons and Oneidists, to the Polish enclave of Hamtramck in the heart of Detroit, to the "holy dirt" of Chimayo, N.M. not far from the community of Sikhs near Albuquerque, through the drive-in wedding chapels of Las Vegas to the San Francisco of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Vietnamese immigrants. With photos by Graham ( Only in America ), Codrescu portrays with style and affection a hilariously contradictory, paradoxically spiritual and materialistic country.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (April 16, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1562828789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1562828783
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 1996
Format: Hardcover
If you read Tom Robbins' latest novel closely you'll recognize
Codrescu as a faculty member of Timbuktu U. In reality he's
on the faculty of LSU. No Shaq in stature, Codrescu came to
America in the 60's from the home of Dracula. He didn't learn
to drive. Not until over two decades later. Then he hooked
up with a camera crew; got his driver's lisence, and toured the
same route he originally traveled upon coming to America. (No
reference to Eddie Murphy's ugly movie.)

Codrescu handles the English language with word play and humor.
If you were alive in the Sixties, he takes you there. If you
weren't, experience all of the places over again, in the present.
Experience the riot torn Detroit twenty years later. Transcend
in New Mexico. Sip Coffee in New Orleans. But most of all
marvel at the prose that has made Codrescu a regular on NPR.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Roumanian-born poet and brand-new driver Andrei Codrescu hops in a mint red '68 Cadillac and journeys with film crew from Ellis Island to the Golden Gate, making stops in a ravaged and abandoned Detroit, a moving and shaking Chicago, the New Age and Survivalist supermarkets of the southwest, the neon kitsch of Vegas, and finally the odd peace and stability of San Francisco, where Codrescu notes, "From here on out there is nothing but ocean. You can't run any farther. You must turn around to face yourself." The book's main strength is that Codrescu never condescends to his subjects, remaining true to his observation that "what keeps us together is precisely the awed awareness of our differences...."
Towards the end of the book, Codrescu interviews City Lights founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti (an interview which didn't make it into the film documentary, by the way) who compares Henry Miller's and Kerouac's cross-country roadtrip accounts, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare and On the Road, respectively: "...Miller was more focused on the reality of America whereas Kerouac was off in his Catholic consciousness more. When you read On the Road cosely, you see he really wasn't observing the reality in front of him." Other than occasional nostalgic flashbacks to the '60s, Codrescu seems to be genuinely engaged and surprised by what he finds at the well-lit fringes of American society at the end of the 20th century.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nate on June 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
A different sort of road novel; a brief examination of (then) modern America seen through the poetically inquisitive eyes of a Romanian immigrant. Though published in the 90s, Andrei Codrescu's observations still ring true twenty years later. Not just an outsider's view, Codrescu's is an outrider's view, which may be the perspective we need to see ourselves, as opposed to the mirror reflection we get accustomed to. I found this brief passage particularly poignant:

"The true American religion is speed. When you go fast you don't notice much. In the Church of Speed, Inattention is God. If you go fast enough, you'll take the approximate over the accurate . . . the copy over the original . . . the copy of the copy over the copy . . . the ideal cowboy over the bone-tired cowpoke . . . the mythic gunslinger over the petty criminal . . . the illusion over reality . . . the fast buck over the sweaty nickel."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Danny Brassell on June 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I love travel books. I especially love travel books about America. What I love about this book is how an immigrant poet from New Orleans learns to drive so he can see America as a driver. Even though the book was written in the 1990s, it could now be considered a history book. When you read it, you can tell your kids about the good ole days when cars were smaller than starter homes and a tank of gas cost less than a mortgage payment. For more cool, short book recommendations, visit The Lazy Readers' Book Club at [...].
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