Literature for the road

The morning I drove away from Emmaus I checked out two books on CD from the local library to accompany me on this trip. Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. I suspected but did not realize how much these two books take place on the ribbon highways of the American West, and a felt a certain kinship with some of the characters as I checked into motels and ate at diners the same way they did. Fortunately, my cross-country sojourn has so far avoided the missing drug money, psychotic killers, and shotgun slayings that populate the plots of these books. The rawness of the stories, however, and the twang and bite of the language spoken by the versatile readers is preparing me to re-enter the West I left behind almost two years ago. The books I am listening to provide a necessary and subtle reintroduction. Ever since I packed my car in Pennsylvania, got in, closed the door, and started my solitary driving, I sometimes feel like I am traveling in a cocoon. It's as if my car is a spaceship merely passing through these strange, flat lands between my origin and my destination. But I am not removed from the states and towns I pass through, even if they recede in a fast lane blur. I am a part of these places even if I don't know how. After all, I never know where I might move next.