". . . if I cannot be the good citizen, I will settle for the money" - Christian Peet
So, like I said, I read Christian Peet's Big American Trip (Shearsman Books 2009) on the way back from Las Vegas, which both was and wasn't the best time to read it. Was, in the sense that LV concentrates a lot of the America the postcard-writing protagonist of the book travels through and reveals, from Seattle to Brooklyn. Wasn't, b/c we were flying through thunderstorms and I thought I was going to die. One wants to read something more - well, comforting - at a moment like that.
(BTW, a major American literary event occurred in the comments to my last post - viz., Mr. P. wrote a new "post" from Las Vegas (of the Mind, anyhow). Really. Check it - it's good.)
So, since this is a book description and not a book review, I feel no compulsion to connect my thoughts - and frankly, I think it's bad form to do so, on a blog.
- A propos the epigraph, there are so many quotable quotes, it's not funny. Actually, some of them are quite funny, now that I think of it.
- It's horizontal - I mean "landscape." It's composed of postcards. Some of them are addressed to real organizations (did you really send them, C? - like Lazlo Toth?), but we never see the pictures on the other side.
- Some of the postcards have what look like "real" descriptions on the top - e.g., from "Downtown Big Timber, MT" ("And how is city 'Big Timber' with no tree?")
- Some don't
- The terms "restrictive" and "nonrestrictive" take on political and grammatical meaning at once, in this book. It is overrun by aliens.
- Lyrics from Foreigner song: "Whale, I'm HOP LOADED/ Czech in sea// Zygote a viva/ or 103" Who knew.
- Echoes of other American boy-poets on the road (sans !!'s):
Montana of the God spiteful, my hooded destiny . . .
Montana, you are difficult to see. You are wet
crystals of sun. Montana of Clark Forks
and no end of miles. Montana, I am not to cry.
I am tired without one more day a home.
I am tired without one more day a friend.
My home, which is not the house, does not exist.
- It's all in Plain English, with some in Spanish, French, and German.
- It ends with "the agreement of the bodega" in "The Nation of Brooklyn." Unfortunately, the Orthogonian Flyovers (or Drivepasts) are part of the same political nation (cf. Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein). A trip from Wichita to Lincoln might be real different, for instance. Worth bearing in mind.
- Lots of appropriated material (with 3-postcard bibliography) - we like that, here at Blog of Myself(s).
- The font bugs - all caps, and someone's idea of handwriting. Too bad it isn't real Peet handwriting. Second edition, maybe.
- I really like the "raw" feel of it. Reminds me of G. Gudding's Rhode Island Notebook. Only shorter (postcards v. notebooks).
- It's a drive. It's always a drive. And:
The Drive is "Welcome to" and "Thank You"
The Drive is bison disappear to the hills.
The Drive is abandoned, condom in the rest area
The Drive is no backyard hill or stump
The Drive is find the long definition home
The Drive is steel & tar & oil & gas & coffee
The Drive is under the weather as under the law
The Drive is beyond me
The Drive is Heartland into stone
- No more description, kids - time to get the book and read it.
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