Road Scholar

Andrei Codrescu

with photographs by

David Graham

Road Scholar.

“All my life I had two claims to fame: I was born in Transylvania and I didn't drive a car.

The first fact made people naturally assume that I didn't need to drive because I could always use bats. I can, but it's a hassle to harness the bats every time you need a quart of milk. Try parking bats outside the Safeway! My life would have been much simpler, I think, if I had learned to drive when I came to America. An American without a car is a sick creature, s snail that has lost its shell. Living without a car is the worst form of destitution, more shameful by far than not having a home. A carless person is a stationary object, a prisoner, not really a grownup. A homeless person, by contrast, may be an adventurer, a vagabond, a lover of the open sky. The only form of identification an American needs is a driver's license.”

The two paragraphs above form the opening of Andrei Codrescu's unique travel book, Road Scholar. Subtitled coast to coast late in the century, it's a most intriguing look at life in the U.S. late in the 20th century. Codrescu, a Romanian-born poet, undertook his own version of On the Road in the 1990s; this book is the result.

“In 1967 I hitchhiked from Detroit to Chicago with my first American girlfriend, Gloria. She went on to Madison, Wisconsin, to be with her other boyfriend, while I went to visit a literary hero of mine, the scholar of religions Mircea Eliade at the University of Chicago. Eliade was most kind to the skinny, nervous kid full of questions about the meanings of things.

The meaning of a rusting, decaying America was not among the questions. America's industrial might was not in question then, at the height of the Vietnam war; her industries were going full blast. Not long ago the machines of the future were made here, but before we could even understand it the future's become past.

Nothing ages faster than the future.”

And so, at the end of another year about to become past, I'd urge you to take a trip with Road Scholar, and writer Andrea Codrescu. Be sure to read all about it.

Copyright © 2004, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.