From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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At 37, Mike McIntyre was an established journalist, with a good job in San Francisco, a girlfriend, a nice apartment. His job enabled him to travel all over the world, but he felt moved to leave it all behind, and travel by the grace of others from the West Coast to Cape Fear, North Carolina. He feels he's a coward, that he's afraid to take a gamble with anything...neither of these being words that describe Quakers. But his feeling that an inner voice is telling him to do this, and his conviction to go ahead despite less than encouraging words from his family ("you'll get raped," his own grandmother tells him) are, to me, a spiritual calling. He says he will not take money, not even if he finds it on the road in front of him. He sets out, wary but determined to go. Like Scott Savage's need to turn over his already expired driver's license, McIntrye has picked his destination as a symbolic gesture. "If I make it to Cape Hope," he says, "it will be as a different man from the one who starts the journey. I am afraid."
Right out the door, he finds himself a fill-in guest house on a talk show ("Life in the Country") on a local radio station. He isn't alone as a guest - his new partner is a tall, blond with red lipstick and high heels, a firefighter named Diana, who used to be named Dennis. The book is full of strange encounters, and is an interesting read, to put it mildly.
If this book can boast anything it is the clear and unadorned view of America from the road. There are no car chases, no big reveals, and no hidden agendas. McIntyre didn't dress it up with rhetoric, religious or political, he acted as the journalist that he is and reported what he saw; average people living their lives who took a few minutes or hours to help another person.
Funny at times and heartbreaking at others, this was a well written and fascinating story.
When I started reading this book I really didn't know what to expect. Free books always seem to be so hit or miss. The premise of the book reminded me a lot of [book:Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America|1869], a social experiment book that I absolutely loved. I think I may have hyped myself on the book too much because I had read Nickel and Dimed previously.
The book follows a young journalist as he packs up his things and heads across the country without a penny on him. No credit card, no money, no food. He crosses the country by getting rides, food, and shelter from strangers and never accepting a penny from anyone. How far will he make it? And will he survive?
Sound fascinating, right? It was, until about Montana. I felt after a while the story became a bit repetitive. I never truly connected with any of the people that the author described. There were touching stories of the down trodden, but for some reason I never felt myself actually feeling anything for these characters. I don't know if it was the writing style or the narration, but I just couldn't get into the story the way I wanted to. My biggest disappointment was the lack of conclusion and lesson learned at the end. It was just kind of over. I definitely applaud Mike McIntyre for taking this journey as it would never be something I could do. How do you put your life in the hands of strangers? I just wanted a bit more from the book in terms of how Mike felt on the journey or how he reacted to the people he came across. Something that felt a bit more real instead of a list of life stories.
Couldn't agree more!
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