Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Friday, October 11, 2013

1967 International Harvester Loadstar 1700: The Maine Blueberry Truck: My Brilliant Careerism

The big old I-H is a decommissioned fire truck now working on the blueberry harvest. I found it in Union, Maine. I have a fondness for these because I drove one of these I-H trucks when I worked on the wheat harvest in the astoundingly beautiful province of Alberta...
The combines would start threshing at 10 am, or as soon as the dew burnt off the crop. We'd keep at it until moisture settled down again, usually around midnight. We drove alongside the combines and off-loaded them on the move, then raced to dump the load in grainery bins, then raced back out to the fields for more. (BTW, found an I-H grainer in New Mexico last year: It's up here.) Bouncing around those enormous prairie wheat fields at night felt a bit like sailing on black sea under a starry sky.. If we happened to shift into a new field after dark, sometimes navigation was tricky, and it was possible to get lost driving cross-country between the combines and grain bins.
                   I used this experience in the first short story I published in the US, "Vulcan", which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly. It is a included my story collection, Travelling Light, published this year. (The last signed first-editions are at Betsy's Sunflower here in Brooklin Maine.)  Jerome Hellman, the legendary Hollywood producer (Midnight Cowboy, Coming Home, Day of the Locust, Mosquito Coast, etc) optioned "Vulcan", and writing the script for Jerry was my first job as a screenwriter. (Watch Liz Taylor presenting Jerry with the Best Picture Oscar for Midnight Cowboy) Vulcan never was made, though it came close a couple of times. The story is set on the High Plains, in the ruthless modern resource-extraction economy. The real farmboys are all up on "the rigs" making tons of money drilling for oil and gas, so transients (like me) are hired on to do farm and ranch work. Sounds like now, actually. Time to activate that project again. There are a couple of great star roles. Call me. Call my agent.
                Meanwhile, back in Union, Maine, on a bright October morning:

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