- File Size: 640 KB
- Print Length: 263 pages
- Publisher: Permanent Press (NY) (May 2, 2006)
- Publication Date: May 2, 2006
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001CJ8J74
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,154 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$20.00|
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I-State Lines Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
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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.
Now, should you read this book? That depends.
There is a lot of charm in I-State Lines. I'll admit I was put off by the odd slang of Daz--okay, I found it irritating--but I got used to it and now routinely use "lapis" to describe beautiful women. I also thought Smith's descriptions of the places Daz and Alex visit, and some of the types who always seem to end up in those places, was hilariously accurate. The scene where Daz wanders down Telegraph avenue and finally visits Berkeley's famous People's Park deserves to be photocopied and mailed to the Berkeley City Council every April 15. And Nikki's Sherpa guide-like excursions to the basement restaurants of the Bay Area brought a (hungry) smile of recognition.
Charm aside, there is also a lot of cliché in this book. Tough guy buddies, grumpy geezers with hearts of gold, and beautiful and mysterious women who are attracted to nerdy brainy guys--okay, if I wrote a book, it would have that last part too. Still, there were definitely a few times when I thought I had read this somewhere before. Maybe in the Iliad?
When I went off to college, my Dad and my Uncle decided to drive with me across the country. My uncle chose the route, and we made a 400 mile detour north so we could swing through St. Louis. We drove right past the Arch and all of the famous jazz and blues clubs and parked in the shadow of an enormous industrial-looking building. My uncle called out over his shoulder "This is it guys. We're here!"
Through the window I read the huge letters riveted to the side of the building: "International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame." The funny part is, 20 years later all I can remember is the excitement in my uncle's face.
Sometimes a detour ends in a magical place. Sometimes it ends at the Bowling Museum. Sometimes, like with I-State Lines, you get both.
Read the first paragraph of page 47 first, to properly whet your enthusiasm, then go back and start at the beginning. Page 47 gets to the heart of the matter in a hurry and it gets better from there. "<<< i wish I'd done something like you're doing when I was younger>>>" Life doesn't wait for you. You either grab some of it as it passes by or you watch till it's all over, realizing too late that it can never be recaptured again, at least not in the way it was. Alex and Daz, wanderlust, summer fever and the Mother Road stretching before them.
So if you never "got to go" or "wish you could make the Sentimental Journey once again", this book will take you there. It's my kind of story, and therefore, I give it a high rating. A good book, and I enjoyed it. A word of caution, though: you will secretly think of your car as "Transpo" from now on.