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.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I like old mechanics' toolboxes. They are very tactile: the tools and often the boxes themselves have a very substantial feel. Old tools have resonance, or radiance, particularly when they have been well-used. Without getting all Irish about it, the ghosts are there. Few men would willingly sell their own toolbox: so the men who used these toolboxes and tools are probably dead. And of course the boxes and the tools have a beauty that's not hard to see. Tools, and other things that people use in their work--trucks, lobsterboats, paintbrushes, western saddles--have always been (mostly) about form following function, a good design principle to go by. It would have surprised Romantics in the early 19th century that old, humble machine-made objects could be beautiful, and resonant, but they are, aren't they?

        I found this sort-of-green toolbox in Lancaster, N.H. a couple of weeks ago. It came with an assortment of tools--mostly drill bits, punches, and screwdrivers.
        I bought this narrow blue box with a socket wrench set at Liberty Tool in Liberty, Maine last summer.  This one gets a lot of use, on the Sierra.

The grey box is quite utilitarian. I found it in Blue Hill last week, and I think I will be using it for most of my amateur-mechanic tools. The previous owner lined it with linoleum--early Seventies, I'd say, from the pattern.

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