Book Review: Going Somewhere by Brian Benson

7 01 2014

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this memoir to read and review.

Title:  Going Somewhere

Author:  Brian Benson

Genre:  Memoir

Publisher:  Plume

Shelly’s Rating: 3 stars

Brian chronicles his cross country bike ride with girlfriend, Rachel sharing their adventures along with his own moments of self discovery.

First of all I’d like to say that I’m probably not the target market for this book. Despite the fact that I grew up about an hour or so from Brian’s hometown (waving from Montreal), I really didn’t connect with this story as much as I thought I would – except for the times that the young lovers were actually making their way through Wisconsin.  That’s probably because Brian is sharing the story of a twenty something young male – in all the glory of single male things – like using the F-word and relating everything back to sex along with sharing (with some discretion) the regular intimate associations that he and his girlfriend share. I, personally, would never suggest that having a microbrew after a long drought of Buds and Millers would bring me to a state of arousal.

That being said, I enjoyed much of the book – the parts that talked about his own self discoveries – and the actual details of the bicycling journey (vs. the journey of discovery he and his girlfriend found in many places along the way). The two of them are semi-clueless at the start – how many times are they going to forget to fill water bottles? Yet, as they progress through the states, they real gain their biking mojo. Even as they face bigger realities about themselves and their relationship, the things they encounter on the trail seem to mold and change them.

Two things I loved about this book.
1) Brian does a great job of sharing the real America with us in his descriptions. Having studied this great country with a little depth – the variations between states and regions – I had a great appreciation for the details that Brian flushed out about the various areas they traveled – noting the differences between the states. His language and perspective really provided excellent mental visuals of these areas.
2) The people that were encountered along the way. These are the parts of the book that will engage the reader. America is not dead. There are still great people out there willing to help other people. And they are not just in one area of the country, they are everywhere. From the shores of Lake Superior to the Mountains of Idaho, the people made the difference for Brian and Rachel.

Things that turned me off.
1) As I mentioned before, some of the language just flat out disgusted me. In part because Brian is a great writer. He can paint these images of mountains, lakes and plains. But sometimes he just blatantly drops the f-bomb in places where it didn’t seem to belong. There was also a roughness or coarseness to his approach that definitely turned me off. Again, I may not be the target audience, but I wanted to share this in case anyone reading this review is at all concerned with language or such.
2) I think in places the story could have been a little tighter. I feel like there were details missing, or that some things were not completely explained at times. While it didn’t have any detriment to the story, it just left me feeling a little in the dark.

I think this is a great effort for a first book. Congratulations to Brian on not only finishing the journey, but also chronicling it. If you’re ever in the Northwoods around the 4th of July, let’s get together for coffee in the Loon Capitol of the World!!!!!

Recommend for: Memoir lovers who enjoy cutting edge stuff.

Note: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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