Thursday, January 5, 2012

American Nomads...

Took a walk through the woods with the dogs today. Nursing the very beginning stages of a cold and hoping it doesn't develop into the real thing. Since one of my New Year's Resolutions is to "Take my vitamins", how curious that now that I'm religiously taking the things---I get sick.

And I finished my First Book of the New Year (another New Year's Resolutions to read 100 books). This book I picked up by accident, as it was on sale for one dollar at the library. American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers and Bullriders. The author is a Brit (Richard Grant) who has discovered the beauty and wonders of  the American Southwest. The book came out in 2004, but the book is in no way dated because of that.

This was the author's first book and it was enough of a success that he has gone on to write two other travel books. His books take effort because they are all semi-autobiographical/journalistic pieces that require a certain amount of endeavor. In this one, he travels with a myriad of American Nomads.

This is a fun book to read but didn't resonate with me. The people that he profiles I didn't find particularly attractive. I can interview the same sorts of folks by just going to my job. The historical squetches are good, especially the segment on Joseph Walker, who took a trip across the US in 1833.

One of the more comical elements of the book is when the author describes to a European audience why one of his protagonists couldn't get a $30,000  surgery. Europeans have no clue as to just how inegalitarian our health care system is.

Richard Grant lived in Tucson and you can see, towards the end, just how much he borrows from Ed Abbey (non-cited). He even takes a hike to one of the same desert Tinajas (watering holes) that Abbey visited in one of his essays. In this passage he states of Ed Abbey: "There have been some valiant attempts, Ed Abbey on the American Southwest...---but the literature of deserts is essentially a failure". Rubbish! To countermand this ridiculous comment, all I need do is refer the reader to "Desert Solitaire".

Edward Abbbey doesn't make it into Grant's "Selected Bibliography". Neither does Joseph Wood Krutch. This is nearly unforgivable in a book about the American Southwest.

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