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.


My photo
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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Newlove: "Driving"


You never say anything in your letters. You say,

I drove all night long through the snow

in someone else's car

and the heater wouldn't work and I nearly froze.

But I know that.
I live in this country too.

I know how beautiful it is at night

with the white snow banked in the moonlight.

Around black trees and tangled bushes,

how lonely and lovely that driving is,

how deadly. You become the country.

You are by yourself in that channel of snow

and pines and pines,

whether the pines and snow flow backwards smoothly, 
whether you drive or you stop or you walk or you sit.

This land waits. It watches. How beautifully desolate

our country is, out of the snug cities,

and how it fits a human. You say you drove.

It doesn't matter to me.
All I can see is the silent cold car gliding,

walled in, your face smooth, your mind empty,

cold foot on the pedal, cold hands on the wheel.

                                                                             -John  Newlove, from his Apology for Absence:   Selected Poems 1962-1992. Erin, Ontario: Porcupine's Quill.

Aisle a Ho

From Isle au Haut in Penobscot Bay photographer Winky Lewis sent these images of summer kids and captive vehicles. Barging is expensive, so cars and trucks that make it out to Isle au Haut tend to stay there. The only scheduled connection with the mainland is a daily mailboat out of Stonington, which carries mail, people, and some freight, but no vehicles bigger than bikes.

Because this is Autoliterate, after all, I'm going to nerdishly try to identify the machines that Winky shot. It's not quite trainspotting, perhaps, but it's close. I believe this guy (above) is snoozing in the same '66 Dodge Dart, as below.

And what could this be but a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain?

No split windscreen? Must be a 1954 Chevrolet "Advanced Design" truck.

Matched pair.

No state roads--and no staties--on Isle au Haut, so up-to-date registration is not a priority.

I believe this gorgeous beast is a 1948 Plymouth.

 I went to a fishing camp with my father when I was eleven. Our guide had one of these Willys Jeep wagons, circa 1960. I forgot all about fishing and spent the afternoon behind the wheel, driving up and down a range road in Quebec.

See? No state roads on Isle au Haut. Not a lot of traffic. 

There are les than a hundred year rounders Isle au Haut , with a few more summer residents. A chunk of  the island is a part of Acadia National Park. If you're looking for the mailboat schedule, here it is.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toolboxes & Workshops

                                                             Brooklin Boat Yard. Brooklin, Maine.
                                                                    Don's toolboxes. Marfa, Texas
                                 Dan Picasso's shop. Marathon, Texas
                                                                   Dan Picasso's shop. Marathon, Texas
                                                                                Don's bike shop. Marfa, Texas

                                                   Don's bike shop, Marfa Texas
                                                 Socket set from Liberty Tool. Brooklin, Maine
                                                                                      Toolbox. Brooklin, Maine
                                                              Bill Grant's Boatyard. Sedgwick, Maine.
                                                                             Writing room. Brooklin, Maine.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vintage Dodge Truck in Saskatchewan

From our South Saskatchewan correspondent, Alex Emond:
"The old Dodge truck is out on the Hwy just outside Ponteix. That guy has a garage there and does work for locals trucks tractors name it."

Looks like a c. 1940 Dodge truck. Saskatchewan is high and dry, like West Texas, so the metal lasts.
Oh I would like to buy this machine and get it on the road again. Looks like (almost) current Saskatchewan plates, so it can't have sitting all that long. If you buy a truck and plan to have it shipped, Autoliterate strongly, passionately, recommends Safe-Way Auto Transport out of Kentucky. They use their own trucks, which means your machine won't get shopped around from freight terminal to terminal; their drivers are extremely responsible and do exactly what they promise; and their prices are reasonable. They moved my truck from deep in West Texas to Bangor, Maine, and they have just delivered a friend's truck from Greensboro, NC to Marfa, Texas.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Larry Levis "Whitman"

                                                                                photo Becky Smith ©2012

   “I say we had better look our nation searchingly in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease.” -Democratic Vistas

“Look for me under your bootsoles.”

On Long Island, they moved my clapboard house
Across a turnpike, & then felt so guilty they
Named a shopping center after me!

Now that I’m required reading in your high schools,
Teenagers call me a fool.
Now what I sang stops breathing.

And yet
It was only when everyone stopped believing in me
That I began to live again—
First in the thin whine of Montana fence wire,
Then in the transparent, cast-off garments hung
In the windows of the poorest families,
Then in the glad music of Charlie Parker.
At time now,
I even come back to watch you
From the eyes of a taciturn boy at Malibu.
Across the counter at the beach concession stand,
I sell you hot dogs, Pepsis, cigarettes-
My blond hair long, greasy, & swept back
In a vain old ducktail, deliciously
Out of style. And no one notices.
Once I even came back as me,
An aging homosexual who the Tilt-a-Whirl
At county fairs, the chilled paint on each gondola
Changing color as it picked up speed,
And a Mardi Gras tattoo on my left shoulder.
A few of you must have seen my photographs,
For when I looked back,
I thought you caught the meaning of my stare:

Still water,

A Kosmos. One of the roughs.

And Charlie Parker’s grave outside Kansas City
Covered with weeds.

Leave me alone.
A father who’s outlived his only child.

To find me now will cost you everything.

                                -Larry Levis, from his Winter Stars

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jaguar Mk VII

This image just in from photographer Alison Langley. My guess is: a 1956 Jaguar Mk VII. But I'm not very up on big English saloons of the 1950s. I know that a big Jag was one way to go if you wanted walnut-and-English-leather ambience without paying for Rolls or Bentley. Never could quite figure where Daimlers fit into the English car class-system. Saw the Queen riding in one, once.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rob Fischer at Chinati

Rob Fischer was Chinati artist-in-residence at Marfa this winter. This piece--shed with steel frame and glass panels-- was powerful, delicate, strange. At the old Marfa Ice Plant on Oak Street---a musty, cavernous space, like an ancient indoor hockey rink--RF hoisted his glass shed high into the air using ancient ice block-tackle, then spun it around, smashed it, & filmed it. I was aboard with Rob for while while the spinning & smashing was going on...wasn't sure the tackle would felt a bit like being on an Italian cruise ship, except the captain wasn't abandoning ship.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

THE O'BRIENS in Booklist

Review of The O'Briens in Booklist (Feb 1 2012)
“Illuminating . . . . an epic along the lines of Middlesex in the way it follows a family through time and examines the results of their actions . . . . A brooding novel, engrossing in its scope and detail, The O’Brienskeeps sight of the family’s personal stories amid the larger history of much of the twentieth century.” —Booklist, February 1, 2012

 You can pre-order THE O'BRIENS at Amazon. U.S. pub. date is March 6, 2012.