In today's Sun-Times Books section, my colleague Dave Hoekstra writes about Jack Kerouac's On the Road, published 50 years ago this week.
So today I chose the young adult book Zane's Trace (Candlewick Press, 177 pages, $16.99), a swift read of a road book by Allan Wolf that details a teenager's day trip to visit his mother's grave, where he intends to join her in eternity ...
I've got a six-pack of Mountain Dew,
a book bag filled with Pop-Tarts, a jumbo pack
of Sharpies, a change of socks,
fifty dollars cash, a credit card in my wallet,
and a loaded gun in the trunk.
No rearview mirror. And no more worries.
It's just over three hundred miles to Zanesville, Ohio.
A straight shot.
So narrates Zane Guesswind, 17, an epileptic with hypergraphia, a symptom explained as the overwhelming urge to write. Zane has been writing on the walls of his bedroom for years; now he takes his Sharpies on the road and writes on the dashboard of his dead father's 1969 Plymouth Barracuda.
Along the way Zane encounters a hitchhiker and a bunch of deceased relatives — a device that gives us a little background into Zane's colorful family history.
The book is largely written in verse form, which upon first glance made me think it would be annoying. Quite the contrary. It moves the narrative along at a quick pace and before you know it, the story's over. It's neither abrupt nor unsatisfying.
Note: I could see this book easily adapted for the stage, maybe a one-man show with the character of Zane just talking and writing, talking and writing, acting out the conversations with his dead ancestors, and the final scene with Zane kneeling a the grave of his mother ... or a screen version — hmmm.... maybe that cute Zac Efron of "High School Musical" fame could show off his dramatic side.