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One for the Road


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About the Author

Tony Horwitz lives in Waterford, Virginia.


Having spent months in Sydney without seeing the ``real'' Australia, American journalist Horwitz sets out to hitchhike solo through the continent's rugged interior. He discovers this to be infernally hot, flat and fly-ridden, with the only above-ground liquid to be found in the ``hotels'' (pubs) that dot the lone highway at irregular intervals. Aptly titled, One for the Road is as much a chronicle of the pubs along the way as of the scenery. In the Northern Territory, besides being the national beverage, beer is also a unit of measure and standard of currency. It is ``about a six-pack''or one beer every eight minutesto the next roadhouse; fixing a car's tail pipe costs ``a carton.'' Horwitz has a delightfully wry style and an eye for absurdity, evident in descriptions of himself warding off a sandstorm by wearing five pairs of jockey shorts on his headwith his nose sticking out of the fliesof a sailboat race on a dry riverbed and of the nonappearance of Halley's Comet. But he also appreciates the massive beauty of Ayers Rock, seat of Aboriginal culture, the wisdom of a prosperous cattleman and the peaceful charm of Broome, a tropical seaport, where he looks up the town's only Jewish family to celebrate Passover. A glossary of Aussie terms is provided. (June)

"Ironical, perceptive and subtle ... will have readers getting out their maps and itching to follow Horwitz's tracks.... The internal journey is his finest achievement; he allows the reader into his heart, to go travelling with him there, sharing his adventures of the spirit". -- Sunday Times (London)

This recounting of one American's hitchhiking odyssey through the outback in 1986 unfortunately gives readers only the stereotypical aspects of Aussie life. From Sydney, Horwitz travels to Queensland, to Alice Springs, through Southern Australia to Western Australia, and then across the Northern Territory to Darwin before returning to his point of departure. Although the prose is at times pedestrian, the author does capture some of this hard land's essence: the isolation, the heat, and the barrenness punctuated only at irregular intervals by pubs. Still, the work lacks the insight and perceptual gifts associated with Paul Theroux or Graham Greene. For only the most comprehensive collections. Susan M. Unger, Madison P.L., N.J.

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