Going Somewhere: A Journey Across America

Brian Benson. Plume, $16 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-14-218064-8
Two young lovers pedal fractiously into the sunset in this charming but callow memoir. Recently out of college, Benson set out with his girlfriend Rachel to bicycle from his home in Wisconsin to her home in Portland, Ore., partly as a lark and partly to impose a solid vector on his feckless life. His travelogue is vibrant and engrossing, with wonderful portraits of Western landscapes and scruffy small towns, Job-like ordeals of gusty headwinds and breakdowns, and piquant portraits of kindly, parental folks who offer the cyclists food and shelter and another of a menacing drifter on a dark road. The journey feels less compelling when the author makes it a template for the progress of the couple’s relationship. Benson’s giddy infatuation—they start out “looking at each other with twinkling eyes, as if one of [them] had just told the other ‘I love you’ for the first time”—sours into an equally immature resentment of Rachel’s slow pace and her unexcited knitting at day’s end while he rhapsodizes over the scenery; “[h]ow awesome it is not to have to compromise with your girlfriend,” he muses during a day-long separation. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/14/2014
Release date: 06/24/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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