Cold Desert: An Interstate 80 Picaresque

Selected Excerpts of a completed but unpublished work
of nonfiction


A travelogue, in the style of a picaresque, across Interstate 80 in the dead of winter with a family of three. To this flight attendant of 20 years, now furloughed, America looks very different from the ground up here at the end of 2010–the tea party on the rise; the Great Recession settling in; racism in the age of the country’s first black president. It’s the chilly prologue to the rise of Donald Trump. It’s also about the divides within and trying to connect to that 17-year-old in the back seat.

[S]afest way to travel, the airline is. Safe from the real world. For me it was a working life made up of a series of great parabolic arcs connecting the dots of America in a way that, though it was a simulated life—at least made a kind of sense.