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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Black Livery Cars, NYC

Now that the Lincoln Town Car has gone the way of the dodo bird, it seems the livery car market in NYC is dominated by the GM truck trio: many, many shiny Cadillac Escalades (doesn't that mean "Social Climber"?) or its corporate cousins, the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon. You see the odd Ford Expedition in black, with livery plates, and the rare Lincoln Navigator, but GM seems to own the trade. Re meter cabs:  Saul Leiter's multicolored cabs are of course long gone, and so are the Checkers of the Sixties and Seventies, the boxy Chevys of the Nineties, and the Crown Vics of the 2000s. Now it's a medley of mostly imports. Perhaps Toyota has a plurality, with the Highlander, but there are many different species of yellow cab out there.


1930 Ford Model A pickup

 Thanks to Colin Washburn who spotted the truck in Sonora, CA.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Texas C10's, Jarrod McCabe Photos

                                                                                                          both photos ©Jarrod McCabe 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Trackside America

 Riding the Metro North train yesterday from Grand Central to New Haven, Conn. to do a book event on Carry Me launch day. Soft warm soupy day, mostly raining, sometimes heavy. Warm for February. In that light, the trackside world looks kinda dismal, certainly, as the train streaks through the Bronx, then Westchester and into dolorous Connecticut. I do love trains, however, and it was hard not to keep staring out the window the whole trip. It often seems an ancient America--a 1920s America--strung along the railroad tracks. America's rusty, dusty, junk-strewn backyard. But so much more interesting and secretive than the facetious sprawl seen from the interstate.
And hey, the New York Times ran my essay, "The Last Train Before the War" today. I wrote this entire post before making that connection, train--train. Honest I did.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

CARRY ME: Cars, Roads & the Sweet Wide Open

Okay, today is the official publication date of my new novel, CARRY ME, in the US. Now at your local indie bookstore. Also available at Amazon, if you prefer.
In a review that appeared yesterday, the book “thrills” the Washington Post, which says: “At the center of Peter Behrens’s new novel, Carry Me,throbs the bloody heart of history” and the review quotes from (ahem) the book, on a theme familiar to Autoliterate aficionados, the existential joy of cars, roads and the sweet wide open.
“The past was behind us,” Billy says. “The Plymouth was taking us in the right direction, toward the future. Sage smelled like incense, and small, hasty, finely tuned animals were moving like our best dreams across open country.”

1953 Hudson Hornet: Twin H Power in Sonora

from Colin Washburn: "Spotted this beauty in the Sonora Safeway parking lot, and immediately swerved in for some pics ! MINT condition. Talk about AERODYNAMIC! To me it looks older than 1953, but the license plate says..."--CW

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Carry Me, the novel. Amazon Vine 5 star.

Canadian edition, House of Anansi. Toronto.
Okay, time to do another book-boost. Because today (2/20) is the official publication date for the Canadian edition of my new novel, CARRY ME, by House of Anansi Press, Toronto. (The US edition, by Pantheon, comes out Wednesday). 
This means the book is already in stores across the Great White North, from St John's to Denman Island BC (my cousin Sandy bought the only copy available in a bookstore on Monkland Ave., Montreal last Thursday). If you're in Canada on a cold Saturday in February and looking for something to do, go to  Chapters Indigo online, or better yet hike to your local independent bookstore, and have a look at the book. This link goes to my book website which has links for online buying. If you buy it, great. If you read it, and like it, please write a review for GoodReads. Talk it up. Tell people. If you don't like it, keep quiet. If I get anywhere nearby, on the book tour, I will happily sign your copy. Sometimes signed Canadian first editions end up being worth something. Other times, they are excellent kindling. 
The US edition comes out and is available to buy in the US starting Wednesday 2/24. The US cover is different--see below. You know what's surprising? So far the book has got a perfect( 5 star) score on the Amazon Vine reviews. These are notoriously hardass and ruthless. So this is a good sign. 
I can't tell you how much I appreciate people who buy novels. Not just mine--any. The kinship of the book people is like the kinship of the old truck guys. My people.
If you want to see and hear me yammer on about my three novels (so far), and how they relate to each other, and why I wrote them--well, I gave a talk last month at Harvard called Families Histories Novels which is on video if you tap the link. When I looked at it, mostly what I noticed was that I had a weird and ugly  comb-over happening, but---
The only review we've noticed so far as Megan O'Grady's in Vogue.
We've heard there are reviews to come in New York Times and Washington Post. Probably Toronto Globe & Mail. It's a crapshoot. They love you, they despise you, they're bored, they'e enthralled--who knows? It's a weird business.
What's the book about? Well it's a very intimate personal based-on-family-history take on Europe in a hellish period 1910-38 and more particularly on a society losing its moral bearings--Germany going to hell. Inspired considerably by my father's complicated Irish-English-German life 1910-88. Whats it about? War. Love. Escape. "Escapism was for realists then (Frankfurt 1938). Escapists saw things plain." Photo (see below) of  my father and grandfather. was taken on the Rhine R.,  a few days before beginning of WWII, a few days before my father got himself out of Germany.
You need to read the book.
If you're anywhere near New Haven CT this Wednesday I am reading/talking about the book at 7pm at the fabulous RJ Julia Bookseller store in Madison, CT.

                   HB & HBB, ABOVE THE LORELEI, RHINE RIVER, AUGUST 26 1939

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Built World, Cambridge MA

It's not all clapboard. Above is Graduate School of Art & Design, Harvard. As Brutalist goes, it's not that brutal. Kind of an appealing building though I alway think that the architects of concrete behemoths, so dazzled by the potential of the material, never sensed from their scale-modeling that the actual concrete itself would radiate drabness and grimness. This building has more élan than most of its era. Still it is so huge that I could only capture it corner by corner with the camera.
 This is part of the theatre/ Rindge Latin School complex  just down the block. RLS is the public high school in Cambridge.
 Not a great photograph since what I wanted you to see was the building, but my biophilia got away with me and you are getting the tree instead. The building is Cambridge Public Library, a lovely lighthearted neo-modernist building, hugely popular and welcoming--as a building and as an institution.
And then, up the street, that stained glass window in Memorial Hall, Harvard. The building is a memorial to Harvard men killed in the Civil War.
 And finally, back down Cambridge Street to a row of New England-vernacular three-deckahs.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thing of Beauty, Thing of Not: BMW i3 & International Harvester

Saw my first BMW i3, which is all electric. Reminded me of a Pontiac Aztek.  It's not nearly as beautiful as the I-H, is it? On the other hand, global warming is the issue and I'm all for alternatives to the internal combustion engine. I love old trucks, feel a bit guilty about it, and would never buy a new one. I tell myself by driving only cars &d trucks that are ancient (the Volvo is 19 years old, the trucks are 41 and 30 years old, respectively ) at least I'm recycling, and the total miles per year is pretty small, since I bike to work.
Anyway, why does the Beemer have to look so**^#@ ugly? All plasticky and toylike? I guess it's a car for people who really don't like cars.