256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.5 in
July 11, 2011
Greystone Books Ltd.
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1553658264
ISBN - 13: 9781553658269
Read from the Book
from Chapter 1: Megalopolis, USA
Washington looms across the border from British Columbia at the end of a long line of cars and buses. As we await our turn at customs, we watch a man playing with his young son on the wide stretch of grass between two parallel roads, the one we are on leading into the United States and the other disappearing behind us into Canada. The man is tossing his son into the air and catching him on the way down, and the child is laughing hysterically, obviously frightened out of his wits. The man keeps throwing him higher into the air and catching him at the last minute, the boy's head swinging closer and closer to the ground each time. We watch with resigned fascination until we arrive at a stop sign a few metres from the border, beside a placard that reads Canada This Way, with an arrow pointing behind us.
We are driving into America. Border crossings always unnerve me, which, as Merilyn says, is an odd and tiresome thing, because I have crossed this and many other borders in my life and ought to know what to expect. I have no particular
reason to expect to be unnerved. But to me, crossing a border is a harrowing experience, perhaps because I grew up in a border city-Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit, Michigan. The saying in Windsor was that the light at the end of the tunnel was downtown Detroit, and it was meant as a positive thing.
Every year before school started, my parents would whisk my younger brother and me through
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Vancouver to Astoria
Chapter 2: Astoria to Eureka
Chapter 3: Eureka to Needles, Arizona
Chapter 4: Needles to Grand Canyon
Chapter 5: Grand Canyon to Escalante
Chapter 6: Escalante to Albuquerque
Chapter 7: Albuquerque to El Paso and Back to Santa Fe
Chapter 8: Albuquerque to Jefferson
Chapter 9: Jefferson to Selma, Alabama
Chapter 10: Selma to Athens, Georgia
Chapter 11: Athens to anteo, North Carolina
Chapter 12: Manteo to Princeton, New Jersey
Chapter 13: Home
From the Publisher
Part travelogue, part exploration-a road trip into the reality behind the cultural myth that is America.
Breakfast at the Exit Cafe begins as a personal story-told in alternating voices by two travellers and writers-of a journey by car from British Columbia around the rim of the United States. It soon becomes a journey of exploration. For Grady, whose forebears were slaves who came to Canada in the 1880s, this is a journey through fear, racism, and violence into his own family roots. For Simonds, who grew up a lonely Canadian in the American School of Campinas, Brazil, it is a journey into the heart of the ex-pat promised land, the nation of the American Dream.
As Grady and Simonds travel back through American history, they encounter the splendours of the Mojave Desert, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, and the bayous of Louisiana and the Outer Banks, and they experience the impact of geography on culture and of culture on the landscape. Although they are observing America from the outside, they also strangely feel at home. The Americans they meet illuminate a country dissolving in the grip of the Bush administration's final years and inspire them to reassess their-and our-assumptions about that powerful and complex country. Also available in hardcover.
About the Author
Wayne Grady is one of Canada's finest science writers and a Governor General's Award-winning translator. He has authored eleven books of nonfiction, translated fourteen novels, and edited more than a dozen anthologies of short stories and creative nonfiction.
Merilyn Simonds is the author of fourteen books, including the novel The Holding, named a New York Times Editor's Choice, as well as the acclaimed works of literary nonfiction The Lion in the Room Next Door and The Convict Lover, a finalist for the Governor General's Award. She and Wayne Grady live on a small acreage north of Kingston, Ontario.
"The authors have done their historical homework about the U.S., and provide an interesting guide for the ambivalent first-time traveler.""Publishers Weekly""Grady and Simonds, one of Canada's most popular and successful literary couples, travel by car from British Columbia around the southern rim of the United States, with no special agenda or itinerary in mind, but find themselves on a journey of discovery, historical and personal.""Globe & Mail""[Grady & Simonds] take turns, each penning half of the short sections in each of the book's 14 chapters. It's an attractive choice. As they barrel along interstates and winding highways, Grady's smouldering distrust and apparent dislike of the U.S. is literally shoulder-to-shoulder with Simonds's quizzicality and eye for offbeat detail.""Ottawa Citizen""Grady and Simonds…hand the pen back and forth throughout their journey, each taking a few pages to comment on the passing scene before turning it over again to the other…This unusual structure works surprisingly well. There's no doubt we are travelling with writers…And what a complex, fascinating read America continues to be.""Literary Review of Canada""Whether it's the sign of a symbiotic marriage or of seasoned writers crafting a seamless travel collage, the narrative in this road trip through America flows as easily as a new car on an empty highway.""Globe & Mail Top 100 for 2010“Alternating throughout the book, Simonds and Grady's voices are complementary. Simonds writes with an