Friday, February 27, 2009

Resuscitating the beginning . . .

An excerpt from an e-mail I sent to a close friend in August '08, when this all began:

So, I was looking up Walt Whitman's bio again and found out that he ended his days in New Jersey. Unfortunately, the house he lived in is almost two hours away from here, and I can't see it before I leave. [I was in Madison, NJ at the time.] But then I had this idea. At some point we need to go on a U.S.A. road trip and see the homes all of the great literary figures in whom we have particular interest. Just prior to having this idea, I'd read a review for the upcoming indie flick Last Stop for Paul, which is about a couple of guys who travel to Thailand on the cheap. It was filmed by two guys with one camera, no crew. We should do some kind of photo documentary with quick film clips . . . I can get Charles to teach me a few technical things.

I dunno, maybe this is something that should be done in stages. Like we do the East Coast next summer or even spring break, then spread out from Colorado and into the bread basket the following winter, etc. With a cooler for groceries instead of restaurants at every meal, plus a tent to pitch instead of a motel whenever available, we could do it at negligible cost. Well, if gas doesn't skyrocket anymore . . .

It would just take an ungodly amount of planning. And yes, it's a lot of domestic travel, but I think it would prove worthwhile. Or maybe it's just a whim, but I think you might still be interested . . . Old people with nothing better to do hop in RV's and wander around like this all the time. And young people go on road trips to party or see monuments or nature. So essentially we combine the two and pour all our youthful energy and inquisitiveness into a charming and earnest quest narrative.

Or have I just lost my mind?

All the dear friends who read my other blog and then call or message with comments later on, PLEASE POST COMMENTS HERE. I want as much outside input as possible. And I won't be able to complete this project alone, so other admins / co-conspirators will be added to this site as I find them; they'll also need immediate access to your ideas.

Oh. So. What IS this, exactly? I should explain that here instead of just linking to another site. I'm plotting a roadtrip. I'm not sure yet whether it will be completed in stages or all at once. I'm only sure of the subject, as the roadtrip is not merely to satisfy my wanderlust, but to complete a literary project: a documentary about places that were significant in the lives and deaths of great American writers.

Thematically, I've not quite determined this project's direction. Tentatively, I'd like to focus on simplicity and escape. Many of the writers who enjoyed the most personal fulfillment lived the simplest yet most unusual lives. They didn't pursue society's common values; instead, they evaluated and determined what would be singularly good for themselves as unique individuals. Of course I'm not going to merely plot out on a map the pleasant homes of happy people. Zelda Sayre Fitzerald's death in asylum fire, for one, will be included. I want to include everything, with the possible aim of discovering insights on the departure points between fulfilled dreams and dead-end dreams.

In part so it doesn't become unwieldy, I'll keep this project domestic. And though it will break my heart not to follow the expatriots to the Riveria, I want to create something truly American. Yes, this is coming from the girl whose two favorite writers are both dead Englishmen, and who would rather not exercise her right to vote (not even registered) than compromise between the lesser of two evils or weaknesses.

More on that later. For now I've got to brainstorm!


  1. If you are going to do a segment of Jack Kerouac, you should do it in the "beat" style of "On the Road"

  2. I have long wanted to go through the South to see if the trail of magic in these authors' literature hasn't gone cold. Go and report back to me.

    Flannery O'Connor
    Margaret Mitchell (Atlanta)
    Treasure Island (supp to have taken place on islands off the coast of Georgia)
    Carson McCullers

    William Faulkner
    Eudora Welty
    Tennessee Williams

    Zora Neale Hurston
    Harper Lee

    Anne Rice

    Cormac McCarthy (but I hear TN kind of sucks so unless you go for the music in Memphis, which could be awesome, I'd skip out on this one)

  3. Don't forget to consider Missouri for Mark Twain, like I did just now...