Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book review

lostinamericaI've been following Colby Buzzell since he was a pioneer mil-blogger filing dispatches from Iraq more than 5 years ago. He wrote the most compelling first-person accounts of combat I've read from that conflict and had a huge following. He was even read on a regular basis at the White House and the Pentagon.
Unfortunately, he made people in his chain of command nervous and they put so much pressure on him that he decided to pack it in.
Now that he's back in the civilian world, the editors at HarperCollins Publishers tasked him with recreating Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" for the new millennium.
He admits in the first several pages that he didn't have any idea how to do that, but maybe that worked to his advantage. He set out from his California home in a 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente and drifted around the west and midwest doing day labor, sleeping in skid row hotels and spending his money on booze and cigarettes - all the time collecting impressions of the people he met. His travels are, of necessity, more self-conscious than Kerouac's, but he shares Kerouac's eye for detail and that makes his narrative vivid.
This is not an uplifting book, but it's a fascinating read and it's interesting to know this kind of experience can still be had in 21st century America.

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