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Out West: A Journey through Lewis and Clark's America: 03/25/16

Out West: A Journey through Lewis and Clark's America by Dayton Duncan

Out West: A Journey through Lewis and Clark's America by Dayton Duncan I read for my on going road trip narrative and semantics project. I came across this book mentioned in Romance of the Road by Ronald Primeau. Dayton Duncan drove through the backroads from Missouri westward to trace as best he could the route that Lewis and Clark took.

The goal here then was to recreate one of the first American road trips (even though much of it was on water) and see if he could find any points of similarity with the trip of old and the modern day experience.

On the surface it appears to be another Blue Highways. But on better inspect it's the polar opposite. This is a more typical road trip: male, white, middle class, privileged, self absorbed. This is the story of a man pretending to find himself by hanging out in the local dives of places he stops and then clapping himself on the back for being both homespun and worldly all at the same time. It's Mom, Apple Pie, and Uncle Sam all rolled into one.

It's so cliche that I found very little reason to keep reading. The only thing that kept me going was Primeau's mention of Duncan's rules. Rules follows into grammar and then into semantics. Here is what I'm interested in, even if I'd otherwise want to run screaming out of the room if forced to watch a slide show based on this trip.

There are 26 rules and numerous corollaries. With 26 the rules themselves become an alphabet and perhaps a way of encrypting stories into the very fabric of the road trip experience. The entire set of rules are on Tumblr with page numbers if you're curious.

Three stars

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