ONE FOR THE ROAD by Tony Horwitz


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Horwitz, an American journalist in his late 20s, spent several weeks hitchhiking through the Australian outback and recorded his experiences--the result of which is this lively, fast-paced, and often amusing book. Horwitz has a fair amount to say about himself here, in part because hitchhiking, in any part of the world, invariably generates its share of adventures and misadventures. Happily, though, his is a genial authorial voice, often self-deprecating, only rarely self-important (e.g., when he insists on quoting passages from T.S. Eliot). And he has a keen editorial sense. His tales never seem to go on too long, and he listens carefully to those he meets along the way. In his reports of conversations, there are always distinct voices as well as information. Horwitz has a good eye as well, and his descriptions of places like Broome, a delapidated 19th-century pearling port, have color and immediacy. Yet he is wise enough to acknowledge the limits of language, as in this passage about a particularly bleak stretch of desert: ""I've been struggling for un-superlatives to communicate the un-ness of [the] scenery. . . But what can you say about a landscape that is utterly featureless?. . . You can reshuffle the adjectives but the total is still the sum of its parts. And the total is still zero."" Not big-league travel-writing like that of Paul Theroux or Brace Chatwin; and, as noted, one learns as much about author Horwitz as about Australia. Still, a consistently interesting and entertaining account.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1988
Publisher: Vintage/Random House