Brendan Leonard’s new book tells the autobiographical story of a heartbroken man searching for purpose on the Western roads of the United States during an open-ended road trip.
Chances are, you liked it. Well, you’re in luck — Leonard has gone long-form with his first book, “The New American Road Trip Mixtape.”
Amusing and thought-provoking, Leonard strings a series of short stories together using a road trip as his narrative device. The story is unique in its style and content that looks for answers to some heady questions about love, the American Dream, happiness, and success.
It is full of gems like the following passage, which describes his changing perspective as the road trip gradually morphs into full blown living in a car:
“I had time to look at everything, to appreciate the mountains with no names, to walk on the beach for a few minutes, to peek into shops on a Tuesday morning. I wasn’t rushing in between all the spots on a list, the most beautiful, the tallest, the most famous. I could drive two hours tomorrow, or I could stay here, or I could drive eight hours and be in California by sundown. It was a new rhythm.”
Somewhere out on that road, Leonard also found his rhythm as a writer. While he penned the book in three months, Leonard said many of the stories (a few of which you might recognize from similar online posts) were written along the way.
Flowing among the lives of disparate families and individuals who shelter Leonard and share his adventures as he travels from his home in Denver through the American West, the book is both amusing and provocative. I found myself doing a little soul-searching as I turned the pages.
While this effort might fall a little short of Leonard’s idols Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck (who are quoted liberally), it builds on the great literary tradition of the American road trip narrative and leaves you wanting more.
Fortunately, he’s still a pretty young guy and should have a lot of ink left in that pen.
Upon turning the last page, I already itched for more tales from this talented writer. May his road trip continue to inspire his prose for we are fortunate to share in his adventures.
As Leonard wrote, “it won’t make you poor, and it won’t make [him rich.” For a great bit of inspiration, humor and entertainment, pick up a copy. You’ll be glad you did.