James’ America

by Ruby on September 14, 2011

James ReevesTonight’s event features author James A. Reeves, who is discussing and signing his new photography book/travel adventure story/memoir called The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir. I’ve been excited about this event since I knew we had scheduled him – I’ve always been curious about this country of ours, why people would rather visit Europe than the midwest, learning about someone else’s culture instead of the one we claim as our own, and that is the subject Reeves tackles. I’m especially excited to experience the great American road trip without having to be crammed in a car for thousands of hours. Between that and his appropriately broody author photo, I’m sold.

So, to make sure all of you lovely readers are as excited as I am, I shot off a couple of questions to Reeves, who was kind enough to answer. Check it out:

What is the book about?
It’s a big book about America. I drove over 55,000 miles during a five year period, looking for “Main Street, USA” and listening to AM radio. Soon I became more interested in the white spaces and borders on the map. I’d drive to the fence line of places like the Nevada Test Site and the Venice Jump Basin, and I followed the border from Calexico to Del Rio. These trips gradually became much more personal, as I began questioning how I should function as a man in America.

What was the writing process like?
Long and difficult, as it should be. Over the course of 55,000 miles, I’d collected nearly 10,000 photographs and perhaps just as many notes, post-its, and untitled.txt files. There’s the maxim that “90% of writing is editing” and I learned it the hard way. I decided to structure the book by the themes that kept cropping up during my travels as well as in my life: Home. Country. God. Fear. Guts. The result may seem a bit chaotic, but hopefully it comes close to feeling something like America itself.

What are you most looking forward to about your event in Vroman’s?
I’m simply excited to stand in such an old and well-known bookstore, particularly one that’s in the Los Angeles area. The whole region has an intense magnetic effect on me. In the back of the book there’s a map of everywhere that I travelled, and I always seem to end up in this corner of the country. Maybe it’s the Blade Runner and Chinatown heat dreams that pull a lot of people here. Maybe it’s the anti-city. Maybe it’s the city of the future. Either way, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up living here one day.

Join us for the event tonight (Wednesday) at 7pm, or comment if you have any more questions! I’ll see if I can get them answered for you if you can’t make it.