I think having once been an avid reader, I appreciate American landscape more than many of my peers. I want to see the places Holden visited, where he was beat up, where the phonies laughed. To see how quiet the western front actually is, and to take pictures in front of the house where Bernadine burned her husband’s clothes and car. Readers want to see the places that shaped their thoughts and beliefs and childhood.
Today we trained across the Mississippi River. It wasn’t my first time crossing it, but certainly my first time crossing at the point we crossed. The first thought in my head was Nigger Jim and Huck making their way down that river on makeshift raft. How fun they made running away seem. Maybe that’s why I go so much. An adult runaway. Not necessarily running from anything, but toward adventure and excitement and stories to tell those who are willing to listen.
I remember 5th grade and my favorite book being Little House on the Prairie. One of the greatest books I’ve ever read still. Passing through the middle states on the Southwest Chief allowed me to look out on the flatlands with crops, one or two houses, and a few animals and imagine what the Ingalls would have done with all this modern equipment.
I ride through Alabama every so often because contrary to popular belief, it’s a beautiful place. Spirits hang around still, reminding me of “the old days,” but I love it. I think about Scout and Boo and Atticus and the how they made me see folks differently. I had a white friend, a girl, who reminded me a lot of Scout. I wonder where she is now.
I’m an hour or so away from Chicago, and I’ll think about Bigger Thomas and how his lawyer’s defense can easily fit what’s happening today in Chicago’s South Side. Who’s going to defend them?
Oh Pioneers! “Come my tan-faced children,” says Whitman. Get out there and explore this great country. Help expand it. Grow something somewhere.
Even if not a great book, perhaps a movie. I passed through Dodge City remembering Wyatt Earp and Bernard and Irene who’d sit around watching westerns all day.
I need a new, good book to read.