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Across the Continent by The Lincoln Highway by Effie Price Gladding
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself by Jan Kerouac
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself: 07/11/16

Baby Driver: A Story About Myself by Jan Kerouac

Baby Driver: A Story About Myself by Jan Kerouac is a roman à clef about her life in the shadow of her famous and absent Beat Generation father. For someone who swears she never read one of his books, she certainly managed to write like him.

There are differences, of course, but those are more from her lower level of privilege. These stem from living in near poverty as a child, her dependency on men as a young woman, and her time spent in a mental institute.

There's also a difference in generation, of course.

Jack (Jean-Louis Lebris de Ké) had his early childhood in the Roaring Twenties, his teenage years in the Great Depression, and his first decade of adulthood during WWII. He is of the same generation as my grandparents, a generation pulled in multiple directions first by the early memories of the excesses of childhood, the let down of struggling to make ends meet and the romanticism of hoboing for those who could no longer hold it together at home. Then there's the violence of the war. All draws to a close with children and a post war boom.

Jan, though, was of the Baby Boom generation, and at the young end of it. She was a child for most of the Vietnam war and as a woman she was even more removed from the events. She did though have access to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll part of that era and Baby Driver covers her discovery of all of that (and something not seen in Jack's works, the consequences).

I read Baby Driver as part of my road narrative project. While Jan's book isn't a road trip in the traditional sense, it does feature some travel as narrative segues: a bus ride to New York, driving her Cadillac around in New Mexico, her travel down to Mexico. Her book was included in a short list of important road narrative books by women in Road Frames: The American Highway Narrative by Kris Lackey.

I also, though, wanted to see if Jan's book has any bearing on Supernatural. Yes, I think it does, though not in any of the major threads. Throughout the series Sam and Dean have crossed paths with a number of women who become part of their extended family. They, though, are not as blessed (or cursed) by the supernatural powers that be, and therefore suffer far greater consequences for their trouble.

"Don't You Forget About Me" (Season 11, Episode 12) builds on "The Things We Left Behind" (Season 10, Episode 9) where Castiel finds his vessel's daughter now living in a group home, clearly suffering from how the family has been torn asunder by the hosting of a angel. Now she's living with Sheriff Jody Mills and another girl Jody has taken in. It should be a normal, quiet life, except that there always remains lingering aftereffects for their time with Sam, Dean, and Castiel.

Being a woman brings risks in the road trip narrative. Even staying on the road, following the path, as told in every fairy story ever, comes with dangers if one is an adult female. Girls seem to be more impervious to the dangers but that rubs off once they hit adulthood.

Three stars

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