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Title: The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

Author: Mike McIntyre

LOC Call No.: E169.04 .M377

United States -- Description and travel
McIntyre, Mike -- Journeys -- United States

Source: owned

Rating: a good book for people watching, but don't expect inspiration

Readings: March or April 1997

I bought this on a whim, half expecting something like Peter Jenkins' A Walk Across America. This is not that sort of book.

McIntyre decides to bail out of his journalism job. He writes of a life spent in fear of everything that kept him from doing anything worthwhile. So, in a case of stubborn bravado, he decides to see if he can get from the West Coast to the East Coast with no money. I guess that's one way to confront your worries....

Along the way, the reader is able to see him grow a little. More interestingly, he gets rides with some fascinating characters -- the hooker who isn't afraid to pick up hitch-hikers because she sleeps with men she doesn't know; a mentally unstable woman who lets him stay at her house for a few days for no apparent sane reason; an extended farm/ranch family in South Dakota; a drugged-out pimp and his girlfriend/whore; and on and on.

McIntyre's portrayal of America is very different from Jenkins'. Where Jenkins shows us an imperfect country full of hope, McIntyre's eyes see a wasteland of Strip Mall, USA interspersed with miles of undescribed scenery, all populated with mostly mediocre people bumbling along as best as they think they can. Perhaps the difference is that McIntyre is a jaded journalist by trade.

Page created 5/26/97.
Last updated 03/17/03 14:33.

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