Road Trip!

It’s summer which is traditionally vacation season. This got me thinking about road trips. Steinbeck chose to travel with a dog. While I see the appeal of road tripping with a good listener, I think I’d rather have someone in the passenger seat who could carry on a conversation. I’m a student of pop culture thus drawn to literary & art history. Zora Neale Hurston is one of my favorites – I’ve read her novels, several of her short stories and the anthology edited by Alice Walker (“I Love Myself When I Am Laughing And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean & Impressive”). Given what I’ve read by and about her she seems like she’d have been a lively travel companion. What about you, my fellow Miss Demeanors? If you could have anyone join you, living or not, who would you want in your car on a road trip across the country? Susan: What a fun question. I suspect I’d enjoy someone gossipy and funny. Dorothy Parker and Grace Paley come to mind. Or Truman Capote. David Sedaris. Clearly, I’m looking for entertainment in my driving. Cate: Totally agree with David Sedaris. I also would love to go road tripping with Gillian Flynn and Karin Slaughter. Not only are both women brilliant writers, they are super funny–judging from hearing them speak at Thrillerfest. Michele: Lately, I’ve been admiring writers who dare to speak out in troubled times. For my road trip, I’d put J.K. Rowling in the passenger seat because, in addition to her commentary, I’m guessing she’s good at directions. Then I’d seat Stephen King with Anne Lamott in the backseat. I love Lamott’s wit, but I figure if she started getting too religious for me, King would shut her up, and then probably Rowling would have to intercede. You can guess what the name of the car would be. I’d just drive and listen. Tracee: I want to go in Michele’s car. I’ll sit very very quietly and you won’t know I’m there. JK Rowling would likely be an amazing long distance traveling companion. If I am able to use her resurrection stone I am tempted to borrow Truman Capote from Susan, however, I suspect he might get on my nerves part way through…all depending on his mood. I am tempted to ask Leo Tolstoy to join me. I doubt he’s any good at directions – but I’ll have a handle on that – however I suspect he will have an opinion about everything. I’d like to have him join me at the mid point of his career before he started to think about leaving society for a life of monastic solitude. The 60 hours of audio War and Peace kept me entranced, I’m sure the author can do as well…or better. Paula: What a fun question! Having just survived a road trip to northern Italy, France, and Switzerland with my kids and grandkids — Grandmama in the middle of the two car seats in the back — listening to Katy Perry and playing the geography game, the idea of hanging out with grown-ups in the car sounds cool. (Which is not to say that a road trip with my kids and grandkids through Europe is not heaven on earth, because it is for this grandmother!)I think I have to go with a very eclectic group in a vehicle that would seat at least eight: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Georges Simenon, Mark Nepo, Alice Hoffman, Louise Penny, Lee Child, and moi. I’d let Lee drive, directing our route if not our conversation. That way we’d explore the back roads of America while our discourse runs from philosophy and poetry to clues and character and magical realism. Not to mention a lot of bawdy jokes! Susan: It sounds like you drive a big car! Tracee: Wait a minute…how did Paula get a minivan? I wonder if her trip might turn into a movie….. where 8 start and only one survives. Those are some personalities….all crammed in together….keep your phone pre-programmed to 911 and we’ll come bail you out. Paula: I used to have a minivan, back in my carpooling days. But for a trip like this, I’d spring for an eight-seater SUV rental. Maybe a Cadillac Escalade, pimpmobile for writers! Tracee: Fully wired for video and sound recording I hope. Robin: One well-placed phone would do it 🙂 I like how dark Tracee went on Paula’s car. We could call it 8 Little Writers.D.A.: I vacillated between wanting to spend time with a serious thinker or someone who was fun. In the end, I based my decision on the car: a forest green convertible Karmann Ghia. I can’t quite imagine George Orwell or Hermann Hesse appreciating such an automobile. The person who would relish a drive down the Italian coast in this car–provided I was the designated driver and there were plenty of stops for martinis–would be Dorothy Parker. I mean, really, how can you not want to spend time with the woman who said, “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy”? Robin: Ooh, good choice. Both the car and the companion. Dorothy Parker is another of my favorites. I make pilgrimages to the Algonquin Hotel as an homage the Round Table. Alexia: I want to go on a road trip in Alison’s green Karmann Ghia with John Steinbeck’s dog, Charley.I freely confess to preferring the absence of other people on road trips. I’ve made trips solo (and with an animal companion) and with other people. By the end of the trip, I liked the other people a little bit less than I did before the trio began. On the other hand, the open road with my own thoughts, a (fairly) well-behaved dog, and some tunes on the radio was pretty close to perfect. Ditto for solo travel by train–except on the train, the dog and music were replaced by books. Tracee: My first car was a British racing green TR-6. Easy to spell and a joy to drive (when you are 16)… I’ve driven one recently and I could use better shock absorbers, power everything and a clutch that doesn’t double as a thigh master. How about you, dear readers? Who would be in your car on a cross-country road trip? 

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