The memoir, narrated without sentimentality by this funny, world-wise little boy, describes their life on the road - the characters they meet hitching rides, their adventures with bed bugs in Salvation Army bunks, the joys of finally encountering a decent meal, and the periods when Michael's father works odd jobs to make enough money for them to move on. Despite their sad, dysfunctional life, real love exists between them.
The Next Better Place explores the thin line between wanderlust and compulsion, between running away and arriving, and leaves us with the understanding that the journey is often more powerful than the destination.
I am torn. On the one hand it is a fair story overall and, because of the shortage of travel stories I was interested in hearing at the time, I stuck with it and was able to get through it without much disappointment. However, my problem with it stems from the fact that there is NO WAY that this story could be a factual memoir, as it is marketed to be. While I understand that stories and timelines have to be embelished in any memoir to make it flow, this is supposed to be about a time in 1959 when the author was 11 years old. There is simply NO WAY that he was able to recount a year of his life at that tender age without forgetting the contents of a single meal or conversation (as is portrayed in the book). While you may wonder why this is a big deal to me, it is simply because IF THE STORIES IN THE BOOK WERE FABRICATED BY THE AUTHOR AND NOT TRUE EVENTS, he should be locked up because he is disturbed! Story after story of child molestation, necrophilia and incest with no point other than the apparent goal of entertainment during a book that is supposed to be about a father and son going cross country makes for one if the most disturbing stories I have read! It is one thing to discuss these topics if the author is describing how an individual worked through the associated trauma or even related the events to something else going on in the story but in this book they are simply told and passed by. IT WAS SO F#CKED UP! To me, the book reeked of a guy who thought of some disturbing and shocking stories about farting, defecating and the stuff mentioned above and worked them into a loose account of a year in his life in order to sell a book.
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