I can’t wait to get in the car with my girl. We are seeking out reasons to drive places together these days, she and I. We’ve got to finish Tallgrass.
We’ve taken two roadtrips to Northern California this year, and audiobooks have been our salvation. Audiobooks and blowpops, but mostly audiobooks. On our first trip in January, I imagined that the kids would be plugged in to their various and sundry personal electronic devices so I checked out a couple of books that I thought Bill and I would enjoy while I drove and he pretended not be asleep. So I picked books that I thought I would like. I went in foolish, looking for a tome or two that would last for the duration of our interminable trek up and down the godforsaken I-5. On that first trip, we popped in the first CD an hour in to the drive, and I was quickly immersed in the story. It was heavy subject matter from the get go – an unhappy marriage scarred by infidelity, peppered with foul language and raw emotion. Naturally, the kids were both drawn in to The Hour I First Believed.
We went with it for a while, finding value in the conversations about angst and misplaced despair and woulda coulda shoulda would never. It was less about a riveting story to distract us from the road and more about a series of somewhat treacherous parenting moments. After the book was about what happened at Columbine, it was about an adult relationship, fraught with flaws and doubt and sex and regret and tragedy and longing, and one point Bill looked at the CD case and noted that the telling of this tale would endure for 24 hours. So, yeah. No.
The alternate selection was actually quite good, if you’re cool with themes about murder and writers and Hollywood and… um… tragedy and loss and sex and swearing. Don’t judge me, it was the lesser of two evils. The NobodiesAlbum. This was a good one, interesting concept and divergent trajectory. We got home before finishing it, and I had to check out the book itself to find out who dun it.
Fast forward to trip number two. This time I went in looking for stories that were more appropriate in both duration and content. I focused on young adult fiction, but filtered out most vampire/zombie/flowers in the attic sorts of delights. On the way up, we listened to the Outsiders. Yes. Perfection. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
For the drive home, we tried Tallgrass. From the get-go, I knew there’d be trouble. The voice. Ach, that voice. Super duper mega annoying. The narrator did voices for the characters, of which there are many in this story about a Colorado beet farm family affected by the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. My boy couldn’t take it. It was hard to blame him, but the rest of us were better equipped to look past it for the sake of the story, which was riveting. So we took music and conversation breaks, and when we pulled in to home we were once again left hanging for the who dun it.
My girl and I have listened to snippets here and there, but damn this central location of ours, we hardly have more than ten minutes in the car, ever! The story’s getting so good, though. Driving home from karate last night we took the long way and then drove around the neighborhood for a good fifteen before resigning ourselves to turn the car off.
I can’t wait to drive her to school.