The Driveway Diaries: A Dirt Road Almanac

Overview

While working on a doomed book about commuting, Tim Brookes developed an odd affection for dirt roads. This led him to study his own driveway, a tiny dirt road, a masterpiece of inconvenience, a many-mooded borderlands in the balance of power between order and chaos. The result: The Driveway Diaries, a well-balanced mix of poignant and humorous observations about nature, the seasons and family life.

Tim Brookes is the author of A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow, which was selected...

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Overview

While working on a doomed book about commuting, Tim Brookes developed an odd affection for dirt roads. This led him to study his own driveway, a tiny dirt road, a masterpiece of inconvenience, a many-mooded borderlands in the balance of power between order and chaos. The result: The Driveway Diaries, a well-balanced mix of poignant and humorous observations about nature, the seasons and family life.

Tim Brookes is the author of A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow, which was selected as one of the top travel books of the year by The New York Times and Booklist. He has lived for two decades in Vermont, where he teaches and writes.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The British NPR essayist, living in the U.S. since 1973, moves to Vermont and evolves into a true old Down East philosopher. The premise: an innocent writer buys a rustic plot. But don't confuse this with the story about a naive scribe who acquires country premises. Still, either way, page by page, the resolute author constructs a book of days from seven years of life at home in the land of homespun truth-seekers, the Green Mountain State. Present here is the requisite supporting cast of canny local service people, sharp merchants and loyal family. Early on, a scary hummingbird appears. And there are everyday matters like snow, of course, and ice, pollen, wasps, balky furniture, lawns as ecosystems and a dry well. Inventories of plants, rocks, rusting vehicles and floating clouds are fodder for down-to-earth musings in the boonies. Brookes (Guitara, p. 206, etc.), employing the solipsistic attention typical of the genre, wrestles manfully with nature, electrical wiring and a bit of bird's-foot trefoil. The recurrent theme, however, is the driveway: the driveway down to the house, the driveway as historic artifact, the ecologic driveway, the taxonomy of driveways and the metaphysics of driveways. His driveway becomes a "kind of Advanced Vermont Living Test" that he's bound to fail. Concluding the Sisyphean uphill battle with roadwork, Brookes gives over his penultimate chapter to words from the builder of his home that overlooks the verdant, self-regulating valley. A sophisticated writer, like many before him, moves his family to Vermont and cranks out an elegy to the simple life. Not quite E.B. White among the chickens, but pleasant enough.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781885586339
  • Publisher: Turtle Point Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Brookes was born in England and worked as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, dealer in used instruments, and a tour guide before moving to Vermont. In Vermont he lived for two decades in the college town of Burlington, teaching and writing. Nothing prepared him or his wife and two daughters for life in Essex Center.
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Table of Contents

See the land 7
Drought buffalo 11
Lawnmower man 15
Wasp Vietnam 20
Stamping hysterically 25
Whales of the land 27
The last of the summer vines 31
The revenge of the driveway 35
Off-street parking 38
The movement of birds 43
Household of itches 47
Esker 51
A bit gravelly 55
Alien grape 56
Almost Connecticut 60
Sick house 62
Winter geometry 64
My life in driveways 66
Pollen 87
Car mess 89
Squirrel in the mail 93
Laurel and Hardy 95
Lumpy armchair 99
Walnut brain 100
Snows 101
Spring tax 107
Seventeen ways of looking at a dirt road 110
In good time 119
Split rail 121
Snowblower ornament 123
Curling 125
Block party 127
Iris 131
Something in nature does not love a lawn, part I 133
Something in nature does not love a lawn, part II 137
Sand and gravel 141
Junk in the yard 145
AWD 149
Mechanical sled dog 150
Ice season 151
Drover's track 157
Orchard for sale 159
Clouds 166
Scorpion 170
Falling apart 172
Crunch 175
Fossil leaves 176
Stick season 177
Suburban permafrost 179
Carpet of ice 180
Mystery bird 187
A ridiculously sharp turn 192
Basic wiring 194
Leave two envelopes 200
Risk, morbidity, and mortality 204
Well again 206
Ramp 210
Ice storm 212
The sheer fun of it 217
Gravel princess 230
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