The Next Better Place

The Next Better Place

A Father and Son on the Road

Book - 2003
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Workman Press.
In 1959, at the age of eleven, Michael Keith left a relatively stable life with his mother and sisters in Albany, New York, and surreptitiously set off for California with his irresponsible alcoholic father. For the rest of Michael's childhood, the two crisscrossed America, perpetually en route to someplace else. His memoir, told in the fresh, funny, world-wise voice of the young boy he once was, describes their bizarre encounters hitchhiking the nation's highways. In the rundown rooming houses and homeless missions where they hole up as Michael's father works odd jobs to make enough money for them to move on, or in the AA meetings they attend in every city for a decent doughnut, we glimpse a different America. Pushed onward by Michael's unceasing thirst for new adventures and his father's dreams of the next better place, the careworn twosome live far outside convention.

But despite their peculiar, often dysfunctional life, there is real love between this father and son, and they share the glorious freedom of the peripatetic life. That such happiness exists in a lonely marginal universe doesn't overshadow the fact that a Greyhound bus is the closest Michael comes to experiencing the idea of home. THE NEXT BETTER PLACE explores the fine line between wanderlust and compulsion, between running away and arriving, and leaves us with the understanding that the journey is often more powerful than the destination.



Baker & Taylor
The author describes his childhood with his irresponsible, alcoholic father as together they crisscrossed the country, constantly en route to somewhere else, detailing a world of bizarre encounters while hitchhiking the nation's highways.

Blackwell North Amer
Albany, New York, 1959. Michael Keith is eleven years old and is being transferred to the care of his estranged, alcoholic father. "Don't drink! Bars are no place for a child. He needs to have a bath and his clothes and underwear need to be washed. School is important. If there is a problem, just bring him back, okay?" Despite his mother's stern warning, Michael and his dad ditch Albany and set off hitchhiking out West. Trading his schoolbooks for a Rand McNally atlas, Michael spends the rest of his childhood crisscrossing the country - rarely attending class, surviving on shoplifted sardines and sugared bread, sleeping in rundown rooming houses, rousing his soused dad from seedy bars. The twosome is perpetually en route to someplace else.
Remarkably, today Michael Keith is a professor at Boston College. His memoir, told without sentimentality in the funny, world-wise voice of the young boy he once was, describes the peculiar characters encountered while hitchhiking our nation's windswept highways. In the homeless missions of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth, where they hole up as Michael's father works odd jobs to make enough money for them to move on; in the carnivals of Kansas and casinos of Las Vegas, where Michael dreams of Hollywood stardom; and in every two-bit town along the way, we glimpse an America far outside convention. Yet despite their dysfunctional existence, there is real love between this father and son, and they share the glorious freedom of the peripatetic life. That such happiness exists in a lonely marginal universe doesn't overshadow the fact that a Greyhound bus is the closest Michael comes to experiencing home.
The Next Better Place explores the fine line between wanderlust and compulsion, between running away and arriving, and leaves us with the understanding that the journey is often more powerful than the destination.

Baker
& Taylor

The author describes his peripatetic childhood with his irresponsible, alcoholic father as together they crisscrossed the country, constantly en route to somewhere else, detailing a world of bizarre encounters while hitchhiking the nation's highways, rundown rooming houses, homeless missions, AA meetings, freedom, and love.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781565123649
1565123646
Characteristics: xii, 284 p. ; 22 cm

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