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Road Narrative Summary: 12/23/17

Road Narrative Summary

I'm finishing up my third year of revisiting the road narrative project I began in 1995. The last time I got waylaid by leaving graduate school, working, and moving to the Bay Area. This time, I'm still going strong but I've off road.

In art the negative space is the thing that helps define a piece's composition. It's what makes great art, art. It's like the dark matter in space. In the road narrative, the off road landscape is what makes a road narrative, a narrative.

Over the last holidays while watching The Twilight Zone marathon for about the twentieth time, I had an epiphany. The off road bits — the American cornfield, especially — is a key piece of negative narrative space. Being able to traverse those fields (or not) is what defines genres within the road narrative.

This year I reviewed fifty-four books, or roughly one a week. I also wrote seven essays based on research — though many of them were more along the lines of summaries of how I've been researching, rather than I what I've learned. Looking towards 2018, I plan to continue the weekly reviews, but I would like to add a monthly essay. Ultimately I would like to go from monthly essays to posting one every fortweek. I have enough notes now to actually start writing genuine articles of analysis.

Also, I would like to start working in some television and film analysis. Supernatural and Westworld are two series I want to analyze.


  1. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
  2. American Road Narratives: Reimagining Mobility in Literature and Film by Ann Brigham
  3. Are We There Yet? by Nina Laden
  4. Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
  5. Anna's Corn by Barbara Santucci
  6. The Better Country by Dallas Lore Sharp
  7. Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
  8. Big Dog...Little Dog: A Bedtime Story by P.D. Eastman
  9. The Big Roads by Earl Swift
  10. Black Hammer Volume 1: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire
  11. Bull by David Elliott
  12. By Motor to the Golden Gate by Emily Post
  13. Cadillac Couches by Sophie B. Watson
  14. California by Edan Lepucki
  15. The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase by Wendy Mass
  16. Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
  17. Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey
  18. Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee
  19. Demon, Volume 4 by Jason Shiga
  20. Demon, Volume 3 by Jason Shiga
  21. Demon Volume 2 by Jason Shiga
  22. Field Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen
  23. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
  24. I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
  25. In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph M. Marshall III
  26. Instructions by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Charles Vess
  27. It Might Have Been Worse by Beatrice Larned Massey
  28. "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby
  29. Just Us Women by Jeannette Franklin Caines
  30. The Magic Cornfield by Nancy Willard
  31. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill
  32. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  33. On the Trail to Sunset by Thomas William Wilby and Agnes Anderson Wilby
  34. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
  35. Otis by Loren Long
  36. Over Easy by Mimi Pond
  37. Pastoral Cities by James L. Machor
  38. Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion
  39. Pumpkin Town! Or, Nothing is Better and Worse than Pumpkins by Katie McKy
  40. The Road Movie Book edited by Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark
  41. A Road of Her Own: Women's Journeys in the West by Marlene Blessing
  42. Road Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen
  43. Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
  44. Scarecrow Magic by Ed Masessa
  45. The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
  46. They Came in from the Road by Marjorie Starbuck and Elizabeth Platko
  47. Traveling Light by Lynne Branard
  48. Volkswagen Blues by Jacques Poulin
  49. The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
  50. Winnebago Graveyard #3 by Steve Niles
  51. Winnebago Graveyard #2 by Steve Niles
  52. Winnebago Graveyard #1 by Steve Niles
  53. A Woman's World Tour in a Motor by Harriet White Fisher
  54. Zinnia: How the Corn Was Saved by Patricia Hruby Powell

  1. Crossing the Cornfield
  2. Crossing the Cornfield and Saving the World: The Neddiad
  3. Detour ahead
  4. Greenglass House by Kate Milford: A road narrative deconstruction
  5. Mapping the roads of the American nightmare
  6. The maze isn't for you — except when it is
  7. Seven narrative ways to travel

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