Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Allure and Redemptive Nature of Road Trips

Welcome David Berner, author of Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons. So, who's up for a road trip??? After reading David's guest post, I certainly am! Check it out:


The Allure and Redemptive Nature of Road Trips
By David W. Berner

It was an early Sunday morning in June. Dad shook me out of my sleep just as the sun was coming up. He didn’t know that I had been up half the night waiting for this day and he most likely didn’t notice the book hidden in the tangles of my bed covers. It was an illustrated paperback about the strange sea creatures that lived deep in the ocean. I had taken it to bed with me, reading off and on in the dark with a small flashlight. If Dad had noticed the book, he likely would have laughed. Sea creatures? Not exactly what we expected to catch in the waters of Western Pennsylvania’s Sandy Lake.

It was my first fishing trip. I was about eight years old. It would take about an hour to get there by car, an hour that would feel like all morning.

I remember the trip so vividly for a few reasons. Fishing seemed like an amazing, grown-up adventure and although I wouldn’t be catching an octopus or some other ocean monster, it was close enough. And although Dad and I had spent a lot of time together lately–he helped coach my T-ball team–it was the first time we had gone on a trip together, just the two of us. One hour in the car together; Dad and me.

We took the green, 1961 Chevy Impala. The vinyl seats stuck to the bare legs hanging from my khaki shorts. I remember the low morning sun streaming through the windshield, stinging my eyes. I can still see Dad’s cap, the white cotton golf hat he wore each day when I was young, the one with the blue and green band around its brim. And I can see his hands on the steering wheel, thick, big-man hands, the calloused digits of a man who worked with wood and repaired his own cars. I don’t remember much about the fishing, can’t even recall if we pulled anything out of the lake. But I remember the drive like it was yesterday, that special early morning road trip.

I didn’t know it then, but now I see the impact of that short journey. I believe it subtlety solidified my budding adulation of my father, a respect I would disregard when I reached my teenage years, an admiration I would misplace when I graduated from college and was struggling to make my own way, and would only come into focus again when my first son was born and I took him on his first fishing trip. It was the 60-minutes in the car with my dad that mattered that late spring day, the moments of silence, the shared smiles, the sparse but pointed talk about baseball, what we’d eat for lunch, and what is was going to be like to twist a nightcrawler onto a steel hook.

I never became much of a fisherman, neither did my son, but it doesn’t matter. The road trips to those clean, cool waters are what have outlasted any anticipation or excitement of snagging a lake trout.  

The power of a road trip, whether it’s by car, train, horseback, or raft is embedded in American life. It’s in our make-up. Look at our literature: Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Kerouac’s On the Road. Then there are the movies: Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, Little Miss Sunshine. The list is long and varied. But the theme is essentially the same: the journey is the thing, the travel is what fascinates us and in the end, somehow changes us, awakens our lives.

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons (Dream of Things, 2014) started out as a single, 3000 word essay initialized entitled “Francis is on the Patio”–referring to a almost encounter with Francis Ford Coppola. It was about a 5000-mile road trip I took with my sons at a time when my life required a new direction and I was searching for a boost of the soul. But after a long-held family secret was revealed to me, the piece developed into the thread of a full-length memoir about fatherhood, a story discovered through each mile of that cross-country trip. It was the journey that fueled the reflection. It was the road trip itself that became the medicine of redemption and helped to restore the spirit.  

Yes, the book is my personal story. But I believe it resonates with so many others, not only because of the inevitable and shared connections between fathers and sons, parents and children, but also because we all love the American road trip. We fondly recall the ones of our past and we eagerly anticipate the ones in our future. Road trips are forever alluring for what they help us discover, a bit of ourselves.

Thank you David Berner for an entertaining guest post! Also, thank you to WOW -Women on Writing for providing this stop on David's tour. For more information and more blog stops, please check out:

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, Any Road Will Take You There is honest, unflinching, and tender. 
In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip -- the one he always wished he'd taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story -- Jack Kerouac's On the Road -- and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit. 

However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Dream of Things (September 23, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0988439096
ISBN-13: 978-0988439092

Twitter hashtag: # AnyRoadBook

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons  is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon 
About the AuthorDavid W. Berner-the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE-was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE is the author's story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read."
David can be found online at:
Twitter:  @davidwberner
Twitter:  @anyroadbook

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