Divine Magnetic Lands: A Journey in America

Divine Magnetic Lands: A Journey in America

by Timothy O'Grady
     
 

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In 1973, aged twenty-two, Timothy O'Grady left America. For the next thirty years he lived in and wrote about Europe. As he did, the American counter-culture crashed, Ronald Reagan came and went, wars were declared and the country was attacked by air. Much of the world began to look at America in a new way, wondering what had happened to it and where it was going.

Overview

In 1973, aged twenty-two, Timothy O'Grady left America. For the next thirty years he lived in and wrote about Europe. As he did, the American counter-culture crashed, Ronald Reagan came and went, wars were declared and the country was attacked by air. Much of the world began to look at America in a new way, wondering what had happened to it and where it was going. Among them was Timothy O'Grady, and he decided to go back and investigate.

He went out onto the American road, travelling over fifteen thousand miles through thirty-five states. He met academics, the homeless, war veterans, political activists, New Orleans rappers, billionaires, novelists and a Ku Klux Klansman. In every bar he stopped in, it seemed, there was a story of American life to be heard.


Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Novelist and nonfiction writer O'Grady (On Golf: The Game, the Players, and a Personal History of Obsession, 2005, etc.) chronicles his road trip across America. Born in the United States, the author lived there until 1973, when he moved to Europe in his early 20s. He'd only been back stateside a few times, and then only briefly. Now in his 50s, he felt the need to reconnect with America via a road trip from New York to San Francisco through the north and back through the south. He clearly views the trip as a romantic, Kerouac-style quest: "The American road is a great seduction," he writes early on. Traveling through cities and towns across the country, he interacted with friends, family and many strangers-most unknown, but some famous, such as the writer Edmund White in New York and the activist Tom Hayden in California. O'Grady gives historical sketches along the way, though often with a vague, hearsay quality, and peppered with quotes from more insightful writers. The author also dabbles in political discussion (predictably, the George W. Bush administration is a common and frankly easy target), and he hops haphazardly from topic to topic: NAFTA, the meatpacking industry, blues music, Walt Whitman-whatever peculiarly American subject strikes his fancy at the moment. However, the author has a gift for getting strangers to open up, and he recalls interesting conversations with a wide variety of people, including an Indian motel owner, a group of rappers and an Alabama Klansman. Ultimately, O'Grady fails to delve deeply into his subjects, and the narrative becomes less a comprehensive portrait of the real America than a scattershot collection of accumulated details. A rather run-of-themill travelogue, despite the author's lofty ambitions.
From the Publisher

"Engrossing and thoughtful—this novel sparkles."  —Scottish Sunday Herald on Light

"If the words tell the story of the voiceless, the bleak, lovely photographs that accompany it show their faces . . . Fiction rarely gets as close to the messy, glorious truth as do memories and photographs. This rare novel dares to use both."  —Times Literary Supplement on I Could Read the Sky

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781407092904
Publisher:
RANDOM HOUSE
Publication date:
06/30/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
989,043
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Timothy O'Grady was born in the USA and has lived in Ireland, London and Spain. He is the author (with Kenneth Griffith) of Curious Journey: An Oral History of Ireland's Unfinished Revolution, and the novels Motherland, which won the David Higham award for the best first novel in 1989, and I Could Read the Sky, which won the Encore award for best second novel of 1997. His book On Golf was published by Yellow Jersey to superb reviews in 2003.

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