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The Great American Bus Ride

Irma Kurtz

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Fourth Estate

Published : 1994

Copyright : Irma Kurtz 1993

ISBN-10 : PB 1-85702-185-1
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-85702-185-1

Publisher's Write-Up

"The truth is, I am a hussy of low appetites who yearns shamelessly for rough travel... Greyhound and I were made for each other."

After more than thirty years as an expatriate, Irma Kurtz gave in to her growing curiosity about her American roots and set off on a grand adventure to explore 'the most baffling of all places' - by Greyhound bus.

Taking only the barest necessities for travel, she entered the vast network of America's bus routes and a seething, fleeting world of brief encounters and changing landscapes.

During the great loops of her journey back and forth across the continent, Kurtz was as fascinated by the people thrown up at random on each bus as by the places flashing by outside the window. She creates a vivid and highly entertaining portrait of America reflected in the hundreds of characters she observes fromthe close quarters of the bus. Feeling herself becoming 'invisible' as she passes into middle age, she senses a wonderful new freedom to watch and record other people.

This is America caught unawares, in the no-man's-land between bus stations: a more truthful picture of it than we have come to expect, from a woman looking coolly at the truth about herself.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (301111) Rating (7/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Rating 7/10
Irma Kurtz recounts her journey across early 1990's America in The Great American Bus Ride.

After 30 years as an expatriate the writer feels the need to re-connect with the place of her birth, and her ancestors, and decides to see the whole of America from the windows of a number of Greyhound Buses.

With a novelist's eye for detail, and a tourists sense of discovery, Kurtz recollects her travels from Boston to New York, and the people she meets along the way, from fleeting night time bus rides, to more involved friendships, she often finds herself in the company of people like herself, who are looking for some kind of meaning.

Although it is basically a travelogue, the real life characters that Kurtz meets often have the ring of fictional characters. Although her mother fears for her safety, the many small towns that she visits offer her nothing but hospitality, and like the work of Kerouac, and too a certain extent Mark Twain, the journey is seen as being just as an important part of the experience as the people who she encounters.
Ben Macnair (30th November 2011)

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