A late 1960s road trip fueled by fake checks and real desperation.
B. doesn’t know exactly where she’s going, but she’s definitely leaving San Francisco. A nausea—“the carsickness”—that has haunted her for years has recently made her unable to function, and she's found that she only gets relief, temporarily, from passing counterfeit checks at local banks. Her trip meanders from town to town, punctuated by a new bank in each one, and is leavened only by the obsessive attention she pays to her appearance. B. is adrift not only in the Central Valley, but in life—she doesn’t want to live like her mother, trapped beneath her hair and her girdle, but is also horrified by the counterculture girls who don’t wear gloves and don’t seem to know what a wash-and-set is. As the trip continues, B.’s attention to the trappings of femininity wanes, even as she reveres the way her dresses, nails, and makeup allow her to pass the checks she increasingly needs to keep her sanity. B. meets other people on her travels and is disappointed by every one—none can calm the restless carsickness, and in fact, she only feels worse as each day passes, even after reconnecting with the source of her fake checks. Galm’s writing is rich and evokes the desolation of the Central Valley and B.’s mental state. B. is troubled but observant both of herself and her surroundings, and her observations form the bones of the novel as she unravels. Fittingly, the book ends indistinctly, still disentangling as she falls.
Readers may be as confused and frustrated by B. as she is by herself, but they’ll appreciate Galm’s fantastic writing and the new view of an overexposed slice of American history.