Monday, August 1, 2016

Other Lives for the Desert, by Steve Nahaj - review

Rating: 4/5

Vivid flâneur novel! Johan Nivens, a filmmaker grown weary of working menial jobs in LA, enrolls in trucker training and takes to the roads of America in search of aliveness and truth.

The language is playful, skipping from inner dialogue to poetic evocations to plain descriptions, and does a stunning job of tying together the narrative with Johan's state of mind and the way he both grasps at his reality and lets it go/happen. There's real insight interspersed all through it and the imagery and characters have post-read persistence.

I enjoyed sharing Johan’s truckspace and appreciated his effort to remain not only physically healthy but also stay nice, letting the characters he meets along the way leave their mark.

Many scenes from the book leave an indelible print, whether it be a bunch of trucker trainees sitting on warm asphalt learning to meditate, or panicked drivers in a traffic jam as an approaching tornado looms on the horizon, or the intimate encounter with an alluring hitchhiker who accompanies him in his foray into Canada.