Interstate: Hitchhiking Through the State of a Nation by Julian Sayarer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Julian Sarayer arrives in New York with the opportunity to make a documentary, and maybe, just maybe hit the big time. At the first meeting they find out that it has been cancelled. He has nothing to do and nowhere to go. Lodging temporarily with a friend, Natalie, he slowly conceives a plan to hitchhike from New York to San Francisco. Sarayer is a seasoned traveller; he set the world record for cycling round the world in 169 days in 2009, a story written about in his book, Life Cycles, so begins his Kerouac inspired trip across the North American continent
Travelling in a variety of vehicles, trucks, cars, pickups, Greyhound buses, the odd police car and even hobo style on a train, Sarayer finds a nation that seems to be a little bit lost. He meets the homeless who have dropped out of society after financial problems, anarchists who have made the decision to have very little interaction with normal society and the honest working, blue collar Americans whose struggle is relentless against the system. There are those are ignore him, leaving him walking along the side of the road and others who show the true generosity of spirit and do all in their power to help him.
The book starts with an emotive dedication at the start of the book: ‘To the immigrant’, a people in America who are both despised and relied on in equal measure. He tells a story that is despondent at times, when you read about the stark differences in society, thankfully there are people who are prepared to pick him up and take him to the next town along the road. What also comes across from the book is just how immense this country is, he spends days with an truck driver from India as they travel back and forth with deliveries; when they part for the next stage of his journey, it is as friends. The last time he crossed America, it was on a bike doing 110 miles a day under his own steam, this time he could get to know the people and the places and it is a much better book because of it.
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