America the Beautiful?
One Woman in a Borrowed Prius on the Road Most Traveled
- 304 Pages
- On-Sale Date: 04/18/2023
- ISBN: 9780063115514
- Trim Size: 5.310in x 8.000in x 0.690in
The author of How to Date Men When You Hate Men examines Americans’ obsession with freedom, travel, and the open road in this funny, entertaining travelogue that blends the humorous observations of Bill Bryson with the piercing cultural commentary of Jia Tolentino.
For writer and comedian Blythe Roberson, there are only so many Mary Oliver poems you can read about being free, and only so many times you can listen to Joni Mitchell’s travel album Hejira, before you too, are itching to take off. Canonical American travel writers have long celebrated the road trip as the epitome of freedom. But why does it seem like all those canonical travel narratives are written by white men who have no problems, who only decide to go the desert to see what having problems feels like?
To fill in the literary gaps and quench her own sense of adventure, Roberson quits her day job and sets off on a Great American Road Trip to visit America’s national parks.
America the Beautiful? is a hilarious trip into the mind of one of the Millennial generation’s funniest writers. Borrowing her Midwestern stepfather’s Prius, she heads west to the Loop of mega-popular parks, over to the ocean and down the Pacific Coast Highway, and, in a feat of spectacularly bad timing, through the southwestern desert in the middle of July. Along the way she meets new friends on their own personal quests, learns to cope with abstinence while missing the comforts of home, and comes to understand the limits—and possibilities—of going to nature to prove to yourself and your Instagram followers that you are, in fact, free.
The result is a laugh-out-loud-while-occasionally-raging-inside travelogue, filled with meditations and many, many jokes on ecotourism, conservation, freedom, traffic, climate change, and the structural and financial inequalities that limit so many Americans’ movement. Ultimately, Roberson ponders the question: Is quitting society and going on the road about enlightenment and liberty—or is it just selfish escapism?
Blythe Roberson is a comedian, a humor writer, and author of How to Date Men When You Hate Men. She has written for The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Kinfolk, Esquire, Vice Magazine, and for the NPR quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Blythe was raised between Illinois and Wisconsin and currently lives in Brooklyn.
"America the Beautiful? is so funny and special and illuminating that it makes even me, a person who cannot tolerate trees or weather, wish I could've tagged along in the back seat." — Samantha Irby, author of Wow, No Thank You. and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.
"This hilarious, thoughtful, and big-hearted book will have you packing for a journey, whether it’s a road trip or just a deep-dive into your own psyche. Either way, bring toilet paper.” — Emily Flake, author of That was Awkward and Mama Tried
“Blythe invites you into her world with ease, and you’re all too happy to stay awhile, so you can laugh, think, and feel. Also, my Black behind is way too scared to ever road trip it alone, so thank goodness for this book so I could live vicariously through her. Brave woman. Fantastic writer!” — Phoebe Robinson, author of You Can’t Touch My Hair
"Blythe is such a funny writer that I would read about her going to the toilet, never mind going on a great American road trip! She writes about these national parks with a joy and a wonder that makes you lust for adventure, but that doesn’t protect their often villainous history from her lucidly honest and deliciously salt-coated writing. This book is a revelation for anyone who has ever driven on a road in America.” — Will McPhail, author of Love & Vermin
"Blythe perfectly captures the beauty of solo travel: the relentless horniness, the existential spiraling. Basically, she's the ideal travel companion!” — Catherine Cohen, author of God I Feel Modern Tonight
“So relentlessly funny, smart, and inspiring that it made me question my rule of only sleeping in places with a lobby. I wolfed down this book like a tub of car-temp hummus—one of Blythe’s trusty road staples and a food I’d happily live on if it meant sitting next to her a little longer for more irreverent, seriously fascinating hilarity.” — Jen Spyra, author of Big Time
“An American travel narrative with a humorous, feminist edge . .. Readers riding shotgun will relish this long, strange trip while enjoying Roberson’s rants, realizations, and discoveries of wonder.” — Booklist-