|Roadtrip Nation, 2003|
The book's format is simple:
1) Introduction to the authors, and defining their aims and methods of achieving them;
2) A series of interviews with some of America's most successful industry leaders;
3) Exhortation to start talking to the people you admire, find out how they got to where they're at, and then set your own goals for getting to where you want to go.
Stylistically, the book is very casual, the way you'd estimate it would be written by a couple of surfers and newly minted university graduates. That is, written simply but well, unreserved, inviting and open, and given to the odd surf-culture-specific flourishes. Having occupied myself with more than a few years with academic texts and more "highbrow" literature (whatever that actually means), I found the simpler style of Roadtrip Nation refreshing and alive. In fact, it put me in mind to do some private writing that focuses on simple but effective expression.
While I was reading through Roadtrip Nation, I was caught off-guard by the overall genuineness of the authors, and the people the authors interviewed. Everyone involved in the contents of the book showed a high degree of realistic humility (i.e., not self-deprecation masquerading as humility, but honest self-appraisal), and an unblushing recognition of their strengths and talents. Yes, it is possible to edit out events and statements that may have given me a different impression. But since I only have the book as evidence of the contents, and the book itself states that the interviews were verbatim (though specific things said were re-arranged to make a more consistent flow), I am willing to believe my first-blush impressions.
There is a lot to learn about yourself in this book, if you pay close attention. It seems to me that when you come in contact with genuine people--even if vicariously through the medium of a book--you can't help but reflect on your own self, and have an impression of your own genuineness. And if there's one thing that I can point to that affected me the most throughout the interview section, it is that all the people interviewed were leaders in their chosen fields because what they do is who they are.
All of the people interviewed had the common thread of being involved in a way of life that built on their deepest passions; they worked their way into a place they could not do without in their life not because it sustains their life, but because it is their life. They work at the very things that bubble and froth in the centre of who they are. The external results--what we would blithely call "products"--are undeniably a manifestation of their inner world. In short, the leaders interviewed work who they are. If anything can be admirable, that certainly is.
|Bill Murray said it, so it must be true.|
Would I recommend this book to anyone? Absolutely. While the book really doesn't lend itself to an in-depth examination of any sort, I think that is on purpose: it sets up the possibility for you, the reader, to do your own in-depth examination of yourself by interviewing people who did the same, and found their "open road" to success and satisfaction.
Roadtrip Nation most definitely gets the Saint Cynic award of awesomeness (pictured left).