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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


                                   Mine was red of a kind
                                    burnt orange by the sun,
each day paler
                                    than the day before.
                                    No one’s turned over
on demand.
There was no reason,
no predicting. May afternoons,

left at the Wash N’ Fold,
past Cow Shit Corner, 
where the manure was warmed,
mixed by late-morning, 
with the ocean air. Or right,
down Maine Street,
past the fishermen who were drunk
by noon, refusing

to shift from second to third
for fear of losing the familiar
hold-back rumble between
acceleration and exhale,
past the girls at Frosty’s,
across the bridge by the mill,
not yet 4, the time when the factories let out,
when the weekend began

in earnest, and everything
worth waiting for was just ahead,
around the bend,
within cruising range,
the alluring paleness
of the sky so white
you could almost feel
the night, moonrise
over the growing fields

and farms with their junk
yards of discarded dream
vehicles in barns and culverts,
behind the house graduate
shadows removing color
from the impossible finish.
                                            --Bruce Willard

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1956 Dodge

Non-buyer's report from our man in Banff:
"The new owner has possession of the Dodge. I stopped by today and the seller's Dad told me that a liitle nudge over the phone got the dude to get over. I'm a little bummed. To make it seem like a bigger fish story ...the truck came with 3 milk crates full of new parts and 5 old but brand new Michelin tires  Art had, in reserve, a new spare fuel pump , water pump plugs etc etc. It was originally used by a Parks Canada plumber and he sold it to Art and it only had 63,000 miles in almost as many years. I could cry. I can only hope that , especially if I put the word out, in Ponteix (Sakatchewan, some old farmer might have a cherry in a shed. They are definitely out there and this near miss might be a prelude for something better.  The new rubber was worth a grand, and all the parts another grand ... the truck was free. SHIT."---A.E. 

Southbound Nevada 447 towards the Smoke Creek Desert

                                                                                     ©2012 Michael S. Moore 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

1954 Dodge truck & Robert Goulet & Grizzly

This from Alex Emond in Banff, today. I hope he gets the truck.

 I'm in love. Giddy as a schoolgirl. I know this old belonged to my deceased (by about 8 years)neighbour, Art Homer. Art was an Englishman, a bachelor, who worked as a painter for Parks Canada. Kind of an introverted curmudgeon unless you knew him and then he was the salt of the earth. Anyway this truck outlasted him and then somebody inherited it and did a few little things to it to get it safety-checked and now I see it is for sale. So, I'm going to have to look into this... I'll get on it tomorrow. Despite my abject poverty I have to find out the price. It's a sweet truck even if it is a little long in the tooth. Not that far gone. I mean, it's freakin' Job-Rated!---AE
P.S. Found this Robert Goulet record yesterday.... a good Canadian boy with disturbingly perfect hair.
A grizzly sighting from Alex earlier this week 
"It's not a truck but almost as big. The dogs and I walked smack into this easygoing grizzly yesterday evening on the trail to the Cascade River from the Norquay Ski Hill. Threw it into reverse and after a half kilometer retreat we went up and around his holiness to get past it and back on the trail.  Really cool in a sick sort of way."-AE

Saturday, June 23, 2012

1960 International Harvester B100

I'm teaching in Vancouver this week and staying in a hotel in the West End and staring at freighters on the nod, out on English Bay
 Then I came across this 1960 International B100. Yikes. Sweetest truck I've seen in weeks.

 Completely solid and mostly original, though repainted sometime...perhaps in the Seventies. Spent most of its life on a grain farm in Saskatchewan, a province which seems to be a Unesco World Heritage Site for old iron.

The owner was selling her for $2500. Been in his family since around 1962: his father,  a farmer, bought the truck, slightly used, from an IH dealer in Saskatchewan.

                                        Watch those RPM: "Idle" "Economy" and "Danger"
                                                         Radio, mounted on the roof of the cab

                                                                    Not sure if it was 3 on the tree, or 4.
                                              Owner a BC Lions fan (Grey Cup Champs, 2011)
I live 3000 miles away but, men, I wanted to buy this truck. Hate to tell you, but it's gone, it sold... to a fellow who came down from Hope, BC with a trailer. He's involved with an I-H Supershow happening this summer in Chilliwack, BC. This truck didn't need a trailer---everything was solid, everything works. Original paint was red. $2500! That's--what, 1/8 the price of a new Kia?
My Brilliant Careerism note: I was interviewed by the brilliant Michael Enright on CBC Radio's Sunday Edition. The show broadcasts across Canada tomorrow but the podcast in already up here.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Banff Diamond T

These from Alex Emond, in Banff. That's Mount Norquay in the background.

Maura O'Connell "Western Highway" & that Nevada Road

Years ago I spent some time at a cattle ranch in the Surprise Valley, which is a narrow slice of irrigated, alfalfa-growing flatland tucked up there on the northeast edge of California. Most of the ranch's grazing sprawled out into BLM land in the adjacent Nevada desert. Just received these photos from our Nevada correspondent of that wonderful wide open road, Hwy 447 that runs up to the Surprise Valley from I-80 just west of Reno. Remind me and sometime I 'll tell you the story of my only gunfight, which happened in the parking lot of a Denny's in Reno in 1976. I wasn't the gun. Meanwhile, try the Irish singer Maura O'Connell's wonderful "Western Highway"

"This being 447 heading north to Cedarville, which probably hadn't been paved back when you were around this iteration a major inspiration for my '45 Chevy, though lacking storage I still haven't brought it up [the woodrats are a major disincentive].  We do this most every week we're on the desert, going for groceries in Alturas..." --MSM

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Or Gallery, Vancouver. Mitsubishi and VW vans.

Walking to work in Vancouver this morning: this wall belongs to the Or Gallery, on Hamilton Street in the West End.
People here say it's the first blue sky day in weeks. Everything is pretty green---the West Coast rainforest--so I believe them. One thing you see a lot of in Vancouver and on the Island are these gnarly little 4WD vans, usually Mitsubishis, imported from Japan, righthand steering  and all.
And British Columbia has always been a protected environment for VW vans of all vintages. It ought to be a UNESCO World Heritage zone for ageing veedubs.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

49 Mercury & 57 Chevrolet

I guess  the 1949 Merc and 1957 Chevy are the classic duo of hotrod-dom. Certainly the most done cars: you could make it a trio with a '32 Ford coupe. It's difficult to come up with a fresh take on these vehicles but Dan Picasso in Texas--and a guy in Alberta whom we don't know--certainly have.

from our West Texas correspondent, Dan Picasso:
"I put this together for Rod and Kustom magazine-  remember magazines?-- in '06.  Based on a 4 door sedan, 4-inch chop, Plymouth business coupe C pillars, Kelvinator- style tailgate swinging aside, Cadillac sombreros, flathead, 97s, so on and and so forth. Wish someone would build it!"--DP
Check out another Mercury truck that Autoliterate came across last summer in Nova Scotia. Speaking of the True North, Alex Emond found the downsized 1957 Chevrolet in Banff, Alberta.

"I know that these 57 Chevys make you snore but this one is worth a double-take. Some guy with a lot of skill and time managed to shorten this car by a quarter and make it look seamless._--AE 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Launching a Cape Dory 25 in Maine

Scout went into the Benjamin River last Monday, at the Sedgwick Town Landing. Bill Grant set the mast, we rigged her pretty fast, then splash. Having a boat in the water is like keeping a hand in the poker game: no one wants to sit around and just watch. I spent a few afternoons this week getting the engine on (6 hp Nissan outboard) and various etceteras, like sails. Tuned the rigging a bit, with help from Teke Wiggin, Today sailed from Benjamin R. up Eggemoggin Reach to her mooring in Center Harbor. Beautiful blue sky day, SE wind 10-12 knots.

1951 Pontiac Rat

Our Alberta/Saskatchewan correspondent Alex Emond met this monster'd Pontiac at a show n' shine in Banff last weekend. I like the basic paintwork and the restrained style of the car. It may seem strange to be talking about "restrained" style when you're on 4 tires that large but the rattish Pontiac pulls it off, somehow. Canadian understatement, eh? It works.

At the same show: not sure what this rig is, or was. A late 30s Chevrolet 1/2 ton?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1964 Willys 4x4

from our Nevada correspondent:
"October 1978; my 1964 Willys 4x4 panel truck outside Gerlach, NV.  Last year of the old body stye, it had the Buick six that was to go into the super-ugly Wagoneer that debuted the next year, which made it quite quick.  Warn hubs, overdrive... it woulda/shoulda been a keeper but I rolled it on the Bay Bridge in 1979....thirty four years later I'm 20 miles the other side of that mountain behind Gerlach and the kid in the window is about 20 miles SW of Kandahar, Afghanistan until September." --MSM

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jeep Station Wagon at Blue Hill Garage

                                                                                         photo Isla Miller©2012
Went on a fishing trip with my father in Quebec in 1966. The guide had one of these. Forget the fish, all I wanted to do was drive the Jeep.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Marfa Truck Series #1

I like June, and appreciate the wild green of it here in Maine. Spent 15 years in Santa Barbara where June is a gloomy month, often. No rain, lots of white-sky fog: what they call 'the marine layer'. Not what we in downeast Maine think of as fog. Here fog is grey cottony-misty stuff floating over the road,  smelling of Fundy, and everyone drives with headlights on. Maine June: shedder lobsters, poppies going wild, lupine, jungle green everywhere. Then I started thinking of last winter in Marfa, where the light is so sharp, the air so dry, and the Detroit iron (mostly) rust-free.