Saturday, August 3, 2013

Going Away

Going Away by Clancy Sigal
Open Road Media, 8/6/2013
eBook, 513 pages

The National Book Award–nominated masterpiece that deconstructs and redefines 1950s America and the existential road trip

The year is 1956, and a blacklisted Hollywood agent sets off on a cross-country adventure from Los Angeles to New York City. Along the way—stopping at bars, all-night restaurants, and gas stations—the twenty-nine-year-old narrator, at once egotistical and compassionate, barrels across the “blue highways” to meet, fight with, love, and hate old comrades and girlfriends, collecting their stories and reflecting on his own life experiences.
Driven by probing stream-of-consciousness prose and brutally honest self-analysis, Going Away is a sprawling autobiographical journey into a kaleidoscope of American mindsets; most significantly, that of its radical narrator. Crammed with acute social and political observations, this urgent novel captures the spirit of its times, so remarkably like that of today.
My Thoughts:

Originally published in 1962 Going Away is the iconic road trip/political memoir by Clancy Sigal. In 1956 Sigal, a radical young blacklisted Hollywood writer, took off driving across the country from Los Angeles to New York City. Going Away is written in a stream of consciousness style and was a contender for the 1963 National Book Award. Along his road trip, Sigal talks with a wide variety of people about their political views and life itself.

This is one of those classic novels that marks a very specific time in history and a look inside the labor movement. Sigal does an excellent job capturing the political nuances of the period and the collapse of the American left, while trying to find meaning, and some humor, on his road trip. This book was originally called autobiographical fiction but since the subtitle is "a report, a memoir" clearly the material has always been based on Sigal's real travels. In fact, after writing Going Away, Sigal was said to be the "cartographer of America." 

Stream of consciousness writing isn't easy for everyone to read, especially in memoirs, but the historical perspective, looking back at what he wrote, makes this an interesting. This is also a well written account.  Anyone who is interested in political history and /or road trip novels of the mid-century (Kerouac On the Road) will want to read Going Away now that it is being re-released. 

Highly Recommended


Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Open Road Media via Netgalley for review purposes.

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