cover image Driver: Six Weeks in an Eighteen-Wheeler

Driver: Six Weeks in an Eighteen-Wheeler

Phillip Wilson. Lyons Press, $22.95 (376pp) ISBN 978-1-59228-679-9

After careers in the construction, utility and nuclear industries, Wilson takes a lay-off as an excuse to live out his ""little boy"" dream of driving a big truck. So he signs up for truck-driving school and hits the road with his instructor, or ""Trainer,"" for the month-and-a-half cross-country adventure he chronicles in this flatly written account. Starting in north-central Texas, he and Trainer climb into a 70-foot-long, 80,000 pound rig and head ""out there"" (trucker talk for being on the road) with their refrigerated load. Despite the book's interesting premise and its potential to tap into the American fantasy of the open road, Wilson's narrative bogs down in minutiae without ever elevating into a personally revealing memoir or a larger commentary on the country and its regions. As he barrels over the highways from Texas to California and then east to New York, Wilson offers some superficial local color and extremely thorough detail on his day-to-day routine, the trucking industry, vehicle maintenance, CB radio culture, etc. He also addresses the challenges of living and driving in close quarters with Trainer, with whom he has little in common, but his companion and their relationship remain sketchy. Readers intrigued by nitty-gritty of trucking may find rewards here, but armchair travelers looking for narrative pull, analysis and insight to America will be disappointed.