'Reading is the basic tool...

by tosca on Monday, June 21, 2010

...in the living of a good life.'
~ Mortimer J. Adler

I think, book wise, I'm living the high life. For a while I've felt like my book mojo and blog mojo was broken. Or lost. Or maybe diverted. Some of that I blame, in a good way, on Carriger's 'Changeless.' The ending threw me for a six and, for a while, things seemed a bit flat, the other part of that I put down to being slightly burnt out (at least book wise). Slowly (very slowly) but surely my romance novel mojo has come back. My nonfiction mojo...hmm, not so much. You know that tingle you get from a book you pick up that just seems full of so many possibilities? I got it on Sunday when I finally started sorting through my latest requests and found the travelogue below. It's Monday and this is my 'on the shelf' or 'what I'm reading' post.

Title: Cadillac dreams : baby booming across the Southern States
Author: Phil Gifford
Publisher: Wilson Scott Pub.
Year: 2006
Synopsis: "Cadillac dreams: baby booming across the Southern States" is the story of four kiwis living the dream of a lifetime, a musical journey across the southern states of America.

Our catalogue synopsis doesn't even begin to do this book justice - in fact, it does more of a disservice than anything else. What disgusts me is that I wouldn't even have heard of this book if not for our Armchair Travel newsletter and I pride myself on knowing all kinds of odd little gems (known and lesser known). Yay Jill for including it in our June issue :)

This is going to suck as a review because it's going to ramble so get over it :) I loved it! Yeah, I know, I almost always say that about books but this one really struck a chord. Possibly because Phil and wife and friends visited the parts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee that I'd wanted to see but didn't have the time when I was there. What also comes through is their genuine love of music and people. 4 friends decide to take a trip to the US and check out the places that were home to music styles and musicians that meant so much to them growing up. It could have been hokey, in fact some part of me was quite scared it would be, I mean what else am I supposed to expect of someone who WANTED to go visit Dollywood, for crying out loud? But it wasn't - it was fun, lighthearted, serious, a social commentary, engaging, very informative and, at all times, highly entertaining. In my mind, the mark of a great book is something that moves you - to laughter, to tears, to anger, to disgust - to anything. I want to take his trip, now. I want to visit the Alamo, I want to see more bars on Beale St (instead of just poking my head into B. B. King's bar), I want to redo the Rock and Soul Museum, I want to hear bluegrass music played in Mississippi or Tennessee (although preferably Kentucky). Even more, I want to have the same varied range of conversations that they had. Maybe that, too is the mark of a good book. An added bonus was that I learnt so much about Gifford the man. For years I'd always just thought of him as Loosehead Len - thanks to dad I grew up listening to his sports broadcasts/newspaper articles. My dad really respected his opinion. But I never knew that he had been the kinda journalist who interviewed musicians. And not tinpot musos (although maybe those too) but freakin' artists like B. B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and so many more my head spins just thinking about it. I was mightily impressed. Not just because he spoke to them but because he KNEW their music, FELT their music, UNDERSTOOD their music. It wasn't just words. He got it and, because he writes so well, I got it. A smidgeon of it, but I got it.

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