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Skip Wenz RSS Feed (Corvallis, Oregon)

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I-State Lines
I-State Lines
by Charles Hugh Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.00
11 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Road Again, September 19, 2006
This review is from: I-State Lines (Paperback)
If you never embarked on a late-adolescent adventure--hitch hiking across the country, stumbling over some mountain range because it was there, meeting a willing girl and having no clue about what to do with her--then I-State lines might not be your book. If you shot out of high school totally focused, college, career and trophy-wife bound, then it is definitely not your book.

But if you were like me, just confused enough to be certain that every twist and turn in your young life was the right turn, and you still indulge in a little nostalgia about your footloose-and-fancy-free days, then you'll delight in Charles Smith's hilarious, 1970s something romp across America. His tale, aptly and sometimes brilliantly told, will bring it all back for you.

The story line is straight forward enough. Two young fellows, Daz and Alex, just out of high school, decide, with a nod from their parents, to raise money, buy a car, and drive it from LA to New York to visit Alex's cousin. Not quite the Cisco Kid and Poncho, the two characters nonetheless fit into timeless mold of Dynamic Duos: opposites attract. A lightning fast martial artist, the tough, disciplined, smart, mostly silent and self contained Alex seems to have no real need for his some what blabby and bungling buddy, Daz, the narrator. Yet Daz's almost annoying persona, and his half-brained ideas and opinions, are just the foil Alex needs to show, or perhaps to experience, his human side.

Together Daz and Alex make a formidable literary team, clowning and stumbling through the numerous adventures one can only encounter by being open on the open road. They do all that stuff we once did--pick up hitch hikers (especially girls), camp and /or crash in unlikely places where they meet even more unlikely people, feast, usually as someone's guest and famine through their own ineptness.

Of course their old car breaks down, they run out of money, some people help them and others try to hurt them--that's where Alex the Karate Guy comes in handy--and they see parts of America that most of us only jet over. There is some real danger, many perplexing predicaments, and no end of quirks. Then somehow, after negotiating more twists and turns than you'll find in one of those old wooden "Labyrinth" games with the marble and all the little holes, the young heroes come full circle to a poignant and heart warming surprise ending.

For a first novel, Smith's is a smashing success. Daz, Smith's alter ego, is an absolute master of captivating Hawaiian-come-teenage slang that lends the story a convincing dimension. And he's got a deep sense of right and wrong that's tested, for perhaps the first time, in a real-world setting. I loved the book, and I'll read it again in a couple of years, when I'm that much further from my own days on the road and my spirit needs a little refreshment.

Skip Wenz

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