Ten days, two writers, one America.
In 1960, novelist John Steinbeck packed his French standard poodle, Charley, up in a custom camper and took a road trip through the United States. The question he asked: "What Are Americans Like Today?"
It's 2012, an election year, and I find myself asking that question over and over again: "What Are Americans Like Today?" What are they really like? What does it mean to be an American? I'd like to go see for myself.
This May, I'll be traveling to Aiken, South Carolina to meet up with my friend and creative partner, award winning poet, Amanda Warren. To me, she's just Mandie. We'll be packing up her 1999 Jeep Cherokee and hitting the road for a trip across the American South.
We'll be documenting our journey through audio, video and photos, as well as keeping a daily online travelogue, www.travelswithjonah.com. Later this year, I'll bring the material together into a short independently published book about national and personal identity. Mandie will be working on a poetry and nonfiction project with similar themes. You can read more about her project here.
Our travels will take us through the American South, a part of the country I've never explored, then through Texas, which Steinbeck said "people either passionately love or hate," and the Southwest, which I already love, then back to the American West, Oakland, California, where I hang my hat most days.
In many ways, Mandie and I are looking to experience a "real America," which might be something like looking for the Loch Ness monster or a yeti. It's a slippery and elusive thing, and it's probably not real at all, and if it is, it isn't one real thing but many, infinite real things. This infiniteness means the project is subject to change and the story along with it.
This project is as much about process as product. Like Steinbeck, I hope to be able to answer the question, at least for myself: "What Are Americans Like Today?" But who knows what other questions will rise up or what other answers will reveal themselves?
Our Funding Goal
Our journey takes place this coming May. Our goal is to meet $2,000 or above for travel, unforeseen expenses and work going into the book.
Thanks, in advance, for your contributions. It took me a long time to realize how much writers and artists need one another, and how much the rest of the world needs us. I hope you enjoy this project!
You write about cars and the environment a lot. Does it bother you at all that you'll be using up all sorts of resources on your trip?
Yes! It bothers me terribly. Mandie and I will be purchasing carbon offsets for the trip. We encourage you to do the same. You can find out more here:
I've been thinking about that a fair bit. We don't get any Kickstarter money if we don't get funded. To me this means there probably isn't that much interest in this project.
That would be sad.
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