When I was in Canada I read a book called America Unchained by Dave Gorman, the tag line of which reads: “A Freewheeling Road-trip In Search of Non-Corporate USA”. I am not an avid reader but this book was brilliant and it made me search for similar books about the USA. I wanted to find books about travel that were neither fiction nor guides full of facts because I doubted I would be as absorbed in these. The three books I ordered second-hand were: A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins, The Walk West by Peter and Barbara Jenkins and American Pie by Pascale Le Draoulec and am now on the hunt for more!
In America Unchained, “the plan was simple: go to America. Buy a second hand car. Travel from coast to coast. Try not to give any money to The Man™” and it was a highly amusing read that I would recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the USA although perhaps those whose only opinions of North America are based on movies should definitely give it a read. If I am being really critical, I found it focused more on the practicalities of travelling with someone with a bad back than the discovery of the ‘real’ America but I sympathise that that was not the novel the author had planned to write.
I am currently only seventy pages in to American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads and am already filled with envy at all the places, people and pies the author has seen, met and tasted along the way. Baking using cups is quite alien to me – us English folk weigh ingredients in grams on a scale – and some of the ingredients themselves, particularly shortening, are not readily available but I am nonetheless inspired to try and bake some sweet pies! There are also so many berries mentioned that I have never even heard of before and I would especially like to try an olalliberry! All this talk of an East to West road trip only gets me more excited about embarking on one of my own. (Note: the photo is of a slice of pie I devoured in Iowa in June last year)
I could not have found a better book than A Walk Across America. In this account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. I did not realise until it arrived that it was written in the 1970s but bearing in mind it was first published thirty-five years ago, it could have easily been written last year. I could not possibly begin to summarise everything Jenkins encountered along his way, nor can I emphasise enough how much of a fantastic read it is! I haven’t started the follow-up book, The Walk West, yet but I am excited to see what happens.