I've been planning on a trip across the United States for a number of years now, ever since first reading Jack Kerouac's On The Road almost 30 years ago. From the first time I read the book, I've been fascinated with making this trip. Maybe one day I'll make it but it's something I'd put to the back of my mind while working on numerous other projects until Andrew Beattie's Sleeping Around in America: Revisiting the Roadside Motel caught my eye.
Hailing from Ottawa Beattie decided to marry together two of his interests, namely that of retro roadside Motels and motorcycling. The result was not just a book, but a multimedia project with its own website www.motelorcycle.com which includes some a directory of Motels across the US and much more. This not only helped raise interest in the project but also helped crowdfund the book via Kickstarter.
There’s been a large number of books written about travelling across the US, namely Jack Kerouac and, the author’s influence John Steinbeck, and it’s Steinbeck’s route that Beattie roughly followed for the purpose of the book. However, for those expecting a travelogue of travels this is not the case, as Sleeping Around in America: Revisiting the Roadside Motel tells the stories of not only the people who run the motels but the life and times of the motels themselves which, for me, makes the book far more unique. Separated into short chapters dedicated to one or more motel the book is as colourful as many of the characters contained within. Hearing the stories of those who brought back to life many of these motels is as interesting as any trip around the US, which is what sets this book apart from any regular travel book.
Sleeping Around in America: Revisiting the Roadside Motel is an ideal book for anyone interested in exploring this underappreciated slice of Americana. Many of these places are more than just a place to sleep for the night, they’ve become part of the local culture and heritage of the US themselves, many representing their state and the history of the times they have seen. I’ve learned a lot from reading this book, and it’s helped me restart planning my own trip across the US with more in mind of what to explore.
• Sleeping Around in America: Revisiting the Roadside Motel by Andrew Beattie is published via FriesenPress (£34.99 hardback, £24.99 paperback, £8.65 kindle). To order a copy go to www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086BKTD4Y/