Book Review – A Walk Across America

3.5 stars. This story of a disillusioned young man’s adventure from New York to New Orleans, accompanied by his canine companion, Cooper. The book is at its best when Peter Jenkins describes the people he meets, from hardscrabble to hippie to Southerners. His naivete makes a good foil when he talks about the land and people along his path; his earnestness becomes foolishly hippy-dippy when he talks about himself, his preconceived notions about the South, and his finding the light in New Orleans.

The difference between autobiography and travel memoir is frequently how the author views himself. In the first genre, the author is the star; in the second, he is the eyes and ears of the reader. In all honesty, Cooper is the real protagonist of the book, and when the narrative veers away from him, I enjoyed it significantly less.

I did enjoy the time capsule aspect of the book. It is definitely a product of its era, making for an interesting depiction of life in America 40 years ago.

(NB: Apparently I live in the same Middle Tennessee town as the author, and I’ve been out to The Farm a few times–it’s changed greatly from what is described in this book, apparently!)

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