telling minor stories to avoid a major one

Klosterman: On the Road by Barbecue Bros
March 10, 2008, 8:48 am
Filed under: Klosterman

I drove a car across the country once. It took three weeks and was financed by a rock magazine. Two years after the trip, a handful of people from California with exceptionally comfortable office chairs considered making a movie out of my experience. It was a very confusing process. Enthusiastic strangers with German eyeglasses kept asking me how I imagined this film would look, which I found difficult to elucidate; I assumed it would look like the video for Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway,” partially because of the lyrical content but mostly because I (sort of) looked Canadian before I grew a beard. That was not the answer they were anticipating. I was given a strong impression they were hoping I would say it would be a lot like Trainspotting, although maybe they were just trying to figure out if I could put them in contact with local drug dealers. They also wanted me to sign a 780-page contract that would give time control over my “life rights,” which meant they would have been able to make me an ancillary character in You, Me and Dupree.

My theoretical Road Movie would not have been interesting and does not exist, although those two points are not necessarily related. I have no doubt that it would have followed the conventional Road Movie trajectory, which has remained intact since before The Wizard of Oz. This trajectory is as follows:

  • A character experiences abstract loss and attempts an exodus from normal life.
  • The character reinvents his or her self-identity while traveling.
  • Along the way, the character encounters iconic individuals who (usually) illustrate authenticity and desolation.
  • Upon the recognition of seemingly self-evident realizations, the character desires to return to the point of origin.

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