By ship from Liverpool, British writer Raban ( Old Glory ) arrived in New York, ``a city in a round-the-clock state of emergency,'' to begin his quest for the real America. In Alabama he found ``Calvinist'' values of godliness, hearth and home, and resistance to change ``riding higher than at any time since the Civil War.'' Sated on ``Christ-haunted'' cookouts and family suppers, he flew to ``impressively tolerant'' Seattle, where only intruding Californians were discriminated against, and was struck by the zeal and energy of Korean immigrants. In Seattle he adopted an alter ego, ``Rainbird,'' that of a settled-in novelist, and in the Florida Keys he impersonated a floating outlaw in Miami Vice style. This distancing device lets him step back to assess the potential and heartbreak of a country where an ache for transcendence is channeled into TV, fashion, star-worship, the lottery and escapist fantasy. Wonderfully observant, often hilarious, the book is written in almost sensual prose with the astonished integrity of a visitor who dropped in from another planet. 50,000 first printing; author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991 Release date: 05/01/1991 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.