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 an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 27 years--we're recycling. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). Novel # 3, CARRY ME, will be out from Pantheon (US) and House of Anansi (Canada) in February 2016 and by Editions Philippe-Rey (Paris). More of my book stuff at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I've been teaching at Colorado College, Wichita State, and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I'll be a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right. It's free. Never an ad, never a sales pitch.

Friday, February 12, 2016

American Houses: Cambridge, Mass. The Brattle Street neighborhood

Sunny blue sky day and I finally took an hour off to bike around with the camera, shooting houses that interested me. They are all large in the Brattle Street neighborhood in West Cambridge. Large house in Cambridge used to mean "tenured Harvard professor" but usually these days that implies a much smaller house, in Belmont. I'm thinking many of the Brattle Street houses are occupied by the new elite of Cambridge, the execs and founders of the IT and other technology companies that dominate Kendall Square and Area 4 as well as the older generation from out on Route 128.  The oldest houses like the yellow one above are pretty much plain New England boxes, most dating from the 18th century. Plain and simple equalled virtue in the New England mentality--it was also cheaper to build--though square & wooden doesn't seem an ideal design solution for a climate that can be snowy and cold. The mansard roofs, as immediately below, were popular late 19th century.


 This row of early 20th c. brick houses on Sparks Street really stands out in the neighborhood which is mostly big deatched houses sheathed in clapboard. This rown which is very handsome looks like it could belong in the Back Bay, except the bay Bay houses always have bowes window--as do the houses on Beacon Hill. No, what this row really reminds me of our similar rows in Lower Westmount, Montreal.

Robert Frost lived here. Good fences make good neighbors but he was sharing a wall with his names; that immediate area I think Sparks Street is lined with twofers, conjoined houses.

 Arts & Crafts in a big way.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Jason Billings' '57 Chevy: the real deal

I've often complained about the ubiquitous '57 Chevy, how there seeem to be more of them on the road, or sitting pretty in car shows, every year, and I suspect a lot of them are over-restored trailer queens composed mostly of new Chinese metal.
Then, on the other hand, you've got this cool '57 that Jason Billings, of Blue Hill ME, has been working on for as long I've known him. He ran the car at Hot Rod Magazine's 2015 Drag Week out in Illinois last summer, and there's a great piece about that up on Hot Rod.
I hope I can still persuade Jason to work on the GMC next spring.
Some more '57 Chevy AL posts up here and here..

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Modesto Muscle: 1968 Camaro

Thanks to Colin Washburn for the Camaro. Great car. Serious, get down to business machine. Don't like that blue. Modesto is George Lucas' hometown. The cult of nostalgia for the era Lucas paid homage to in American Graffiti has lasted many times as long as the era did. I guess Lucas is to blame for that sock-hop music they're always playing at every downhome car show I go to. And also for all those over-restored dreamboat slugmobiles of the mid-to-late Fifties. It's time to wake up the car-show playlist. There's always Bruce, who is his own genre, in that '69 Chevy with the 396.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pair of F100's, San Antonio

Erik Baier caught these Ford F100's on the streets of San Antone. I'm guessing the white one's 1969 and the red, a '75. But I'm always wrong with Fords. Like the looks of this Ford generation. Drove one around Banff for a couple summers.
Then there was the orange 1974 F-250 that Jarrod McCabe piloted from Montana to Massachusetts a few years back.
San Antonio does look very green from a New England February point of view. Also compared to Trans-pecos Texas which is sunny and tawny under a blue sky, in February. Except for those mountains (Fort Davis, Chisos) which look purple seen from a distance. Am I homesick for Marfa, or what?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bay Area Sightings: 60 C10, Corvair van, 1992 F150

from Michael Moore, a few miscellaneous sightings from somewhat sunny California; 
"Your basic boxy Ford 4x4 work truck, still with its original nasty coloration but with those ubiquitous white spoked ‘mags’...

 "…and a spiffy ’68 Chevy stepside, a bit too spiffy [and rarely driven, according to the mechanic who was working on it] for my taste.  I’ve always really liked the look of those ’67 - ’68 Chevs; had two in succession for twenty years [pp. 24 - 75 in my Auto Biographies];

"…finally, most rare Corvair on the Oakland/Berkeley border. Looks sectioned but it’s just a Corvair, lowered a bit..."--MSM

Sunday, February 7, 2016

1957 Continental Mark II

from Mike Moore in the Bay Area: "Couldn’t resist sending these on right away; Big Car Day…the Caddy on our morning walk, Minnesota plates, gone when I went back after breakfast…but the Continental [1957! wowee…] was happily parked up at Safeway in mild sunshine long enough to get some clear shots……and compared to my truck, which is quite small by current standards, the Mark ll is pretty modest, too. But what design, eh?"-MSM

Saturday, February 6, 2016