Lost in America: A Dead-End Journey

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Overview

Colby Buzzell has always been a loner. An autodidact who never went to college, he was dubbed “the voice of a generation” by Robert Kurson for his daring and critically acclaimed book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq. Half a decade later, overwhelmed by the birth of his son and the death of his mother, Buzzell finds himself rudderless. Desperate to escape the constraints of his postwar existence, he packs his things, gets in the car, and, for five months, drives across America—no ...

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Overview

Colby Buzzell has always been a loner. An autodidact who never went to college, he was dubbed “the voice of a generation” by Robert Kurson for his daring and critically acclaimed book, My War: Killing Time in Iraq. Half a decade later, overwhelmed by the birth of his son and the death of his mother, Buzzell finds himself rudderless. Desperate to escape the constraints of his postwar existence, he packs his things, gets in the car, and, for five months, drives across America—no map, no destination.

In his 1965 Mercury Comet, Buzzell travels through the bowels of a country steeped in economic turmoil and political malaise. With a bottle of whisky in one hand and a pack of cigarettes in the other, he takes us on a tour of big-box stores, grimy gas stations, abandoned warehouses, strip clubs, and flophouses. He captures the distinct voices and vivid stories of a forgotten America—Cheyenne, Omaha, Salt Lake City, Des Moines, Detroit, and San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Buzzell unearths America’s bones in all their beauty and starkness. And like the veterans of Hemingway’s Lost Generation, he struggles to reconcile his wanderlust with his responsibilities as a man and a father.

Lost in America is a stunning account of the ravages of war on one individual. It also reveals deep truths about a more universal journey: the struggle to find our place in the world—without a map.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his follow-up to My War: Killing Time in Iraq, Buzzell offers a bleak book, a dour and humorless account of a five-month trip through America following the spirit, if not the actual route, of Jack Kerouac's travels in On the Road. Buzzell doesn't help his case much by introducing himself in his first chapter as "a no-name writer" who claims to have left his wife and "week-old" son to take an assignment to "'write a love letter to Kerouac'" only to blow it off and wander aimlessly searching for "grime, alleys and alcohol." And after a beautiful tribute to his dying mother in chapter two, that's basically what Buzzell presents: a memoir of drinking his way from his California home through Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska, taking day-labor jobs with no health care that remind him "what it is like to be an American"—even though he seems to have a bottomless bank account with which to support himself. Other than a few casual and unexplained snipes at Barack Obama, Buzzell's unsurprising reporting doesn't rise above banal observations like "The lady working the front desk looked straight out of a David Lynch movie." When he ends up in Detroit—the location for almost the book's entire final half—he realizes that "there was absolutely nothing original that I was doing." Unfortunately, the reader will have come to that realization well before that. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061841361
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012

Meet the Author

Colby Buzzell is the author of My War: Killing Time in Iraq and served as an infantryman in the United States Army during the Iraq War. Assigned to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team in 2003, Buzzell blogged from the front lines of Iraq as a replacement for his habitual journaling back in the states. In 2004 Buzzell was profiled in Esquire’s “Best and Brightest” issue and has since contributed frequently to the magazine. The Washington Post referred to his article “Digging a Hole All the Way to America” as “A Tour de Force Travelogue,” and his article “Down & Out In Fresno and San Francisco” was selected for The Best American Travel Writing 2010. His work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and on This American Life. He currently lives in San Francisco, California, and has no plans whatsoever of staying there.

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Customer Reviews

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