cover image Anthem: An American Road Story

Anthem: An American Road Story

Shainee Gabel. William Morrow & Company, $24 (394pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97419-1

The authors, 26-year-old apprentice filmmakers, cross the U.S. in planes and cars to ask ""contemporary American visionaries"" about their views of the American dream. They hope to produce a documentary film based on the interviews. Their cover letter to prospective interviewees explains that the goal of the film is ""to compose an `anthem' about the promise and sickness of this country."" Among those who accord them an hour or two are George Stephanopoulos, Andrei Codrescu, Geraldine Ferraro, Eugene McCarthy, John Updike, Rita Dove and their idol, Robert Redford. These and others respond with avuncular wisdom. Yet most of the interviewees are skeptical of the meaning of the American dream even while passionate about the country's still vibrant sense of freedom, opportunity and open spaces. The authors, who take turns describing their adventures, are engagingly naive, while their enthusiasms for the sights, sounds and people they encounter more than compensate for their lack of profundity. Photos. (Aug.)