Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Daisy, Daisy Christian Miller (1980)

Routledge & Kegan Paul 0 7100 0709 4 180pp £5.99

Miller is the mother of grown up children who sets off to cross the United States on a Bickerton. The date is never specified, but at a guess it is 1978 or 1979.

Her account is amiable enough. She carries a tent, accepts lifts where they are offered and gets into enough scrapes to make this an entertaining read. By the close of the account she has journeyed from Yorktown, Virginnia to Portland, Oregon, via Kansas, Denver, Salt Lake City and the Rockys. More than anything it paints a picture of the USA beyond the major costal cities – much of it small town, agricultural and frequently with very little money.

Perhaps the most intriguing things about the book is that it was published at all. For sure, Miller is a more than competent writer. But today, it is rare for someone to undertake an epic adventure on a whim, and then write it up. Books that bare any comparison to this one published today tend to be by time-served professional writers, who start with a clear plan to generate sufficient material for a book.

To the extent that this does not appear to be a contrivance, and that a major publishing house chose to take it on, it is refreshing. Whether it captures enough of the time and place that it charts to merit a continuing readership is a more open question.

PS Sep 08

No comments: