A debut memoir chronicles one man’s journey of self-discovery in the late 1990s.
Lazaro begins his account in adulthood, with the author feeling that something was not quite right with his life. He had a good job as an architect, friends whom he could trust, a family he loved beyond words and generally was “doing alright,” and yet something seemed to be bothering him. Before exploring what that thing might be, readers are transported to the author’s childhood. There are musings about his abusive second-grade teacher, his love of table tennis, and, later on, his choice to study architecture instead of electrical engineering as his father advocated. Eventually the story returns to 1998 and Lazaro’s sudden decision to embark on a road trip. He planned to drive south from Washington state along U.S. 101 and eventually meet a friend in San Francisco. Along the way, there would be one-man singalongs, stops for food, and ample introspection. He purchased a camcorder at one point and recorded a great deal of his opinions and actions. The author argues that thinking out loud allowed him to focus. As he asserts while visiting Indian Beach, Oregon: “I’m being honest with myself and seek to unravel my obscure personal truth.” That “obscure personal truth” comes in waves that can be overwhelming at times. Bowel movements are explained (“I eat. I poop.”), and the author refers to himself as a “spoiled brat” on more than one occasion. The reader may not need to know about the excrement, yet it is in the potent sincerity of it all that the memoir strikes a chord. The author’s memories may meander back and forth from childhood to his family to the present day, but whether such ruminations produce tears, gratefulness, or excitement, he doesn’t hold back. And in the final pages, events become oddly and enticingly action oriented. Any initial impression that the work is going to consist solely of a man talking to himself while on a trip from Washington to California is enjoyably shattered.
This absorbing book delivers honest, if rambling, personal reflections.