Snappy, poised, and attentive road-trip tales from 21 women, mostly cracking good writers.
These road trips fast become head trips as the authors pay as much attention to understanding what they did as to how they did it. The triggers are familiar: flight from bad relationships, a taste for danger and excitement, or simply wanting “to be free,” in the words of Janet Mason as she describes her adolescent auto escapades in the 1970s. But that freedom came, as readers might sense, with perilous freight that included heavy recreational intoxication and frequent passing out. Indeed, these pages exude a naïveté that makes one wonder how the women survived at all, let alone turned the experiences into such gripping tales. Goode (Gifts of the Wild: A Woman’s Book of Adventure, not reviewed) gathers a wide variety of material. Some of our heroines are looking for or running from love, others possess that not-uncommon but strange compulsion to drive and drive, always pushing deeper into cruel weather (of the literal sort) with a finicky automobile. Car woes play a large part in these stories, but they also pay rewards, like stripping Shelly Whitman Colony of her self-righteousness: “Indignation is a luxury of the ego. . . . I had nothing left to prove, and no one to prove it to.” There are travels with mothers and fathers, a journey to the spot where a parent died in a plane crash, trips to save the skin of friends in trouble. Many of the women who “thought a road trip was comprised of adventures” learn that “adventures aren't meant to happen every day.” Driving isn't passive entertainment, but an exigent art whose clarity is directly proportional to an open mind as well as eyes.
Traveling light on their collective feet, the writers leave tracks that only they can discern and then interpret into elegant tales of discovery.