In 2004, James A. Reeves embarked on an unusual odyssey. He crisscrossed America alone in rental cars on weekends and during work breaks for five years. He logged more than 55,000 miles, traveled to every state in the lower 48 but Maine, collected a dozen speeding tickets and recorded with pen and camera the reality of America on back roads and superhighways.
When he set out, Reeves was 28 and had already earned acclaim as a designer and artist. He also had worked at an array of jobs from retail sales clerk, pizza deliverer and barista to elementary school teacher and college lecturer. But he was concerned about his seemingly aimless path and was searching for answers about his country and about himself, so he launched a series of forays into the unknown, into the vastness of the continent.
In his new book, "The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir" (Norton, $25), Reeves recounts the course of his travels with gracefully written observations and moving photographs of this large and complex nation.
He takes the reader along great, empty stretches of asphalt as he listens to the drone of talk radio, eats at all-night diners, beds down at cheap motels and fills up at lonely gas stations.
As he drives lonely roads, Reeves reflects on the terrible beauty and welcome quirkiness and wonder of America. He considers his place in a time far distant from his grandfather and father, who chose a different path to manhood.
"The Road to Somewhere" has been praised for its lyrical writing and photography. Acclaimed novelist Andre Dubus III wrote: "A tantalizing 21st Century cross between James Agee's 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men' and