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Truck: On Rebuilding a Worn-Out Pickup and Other Post-Technological Adventures
"Know thy gadgets; first step in restoring some kind of wholeness to one's life." So observes John Jerome about his purpose for rebuilding a 1950 Dodge pickup. Yes, he needs the truck to haul manure, but Jerome also hopes that "by knowing every nut, lockwasher, and cotter pin I could have a machine that had some meaning to me." Thus his year-long odyssey under the hood, among the brake shoes and valves, becomes more than a mechanic's memoir; it is a meditation on machines, metaphysics, and the moral universe.
Nearly two decades after publication in 1977, the essential dilemma of Truck still rings true: as Jerome dismantles the aged straight six, he also disassembles our reliance on "two-hundred-dollar appliances that sport flaws in thirty-five-cent parts" and decries the "deliberate encapsulation, impenetrability, of the overtechnologized things with which we furnish our lives." Despite gouged knuckles, a frigid New Hampshire winter, frustrating and inexplicable assemblies, and a close call when the truck rolls off its jacks, he perseveres. In the end, he admits, "I did not find God out there in the barn" among the cans of nuts and bolts." What he does find, however, is that he must make peace with technology; it's a mistake, he says, to "assume there is a point on that line between the caveman's club and the moon shot that marks the moral turnaround, before which technology was somehow benign, after which it is malign." While Jerome gains a truck that runs-sometimes-we gain new insight into a technology that continues to encroach upon our lives.
Rusted parts, winter cold, and a dash of philosophy
By ddavidv "mxbreed"
- October 16, 1999
My copy is well-used, for I never tire of returning to Jerome's world. The author gets his old 1950s Dodge not to restore (he calls restorers 'nuts'), but simply to haul junk. Thumbing his nose at technology, Jerome undertakes the mechanical rebuilding of a simple truck from a simpler time, hoping it will sync with his vision of rural New England life. The book is an education about engines, removing rusted parts, junkyard hunting (hilarious and the best part of the book) with occasional but unobtrusive forays into questioning 'progress'. We feel the cold of winter as he works on the dirt floor of the barn, feel the heat radiating from the woodstove, feel the speckle of penetrating oil on our faces as he whacks away hopelessly at the kingpins. And when it's all back together, we share in his disappointment when it doesn't run (at first) and his juvenile glee when it does (much hand-wringing later). The story parallels what happens every winter in garages across the nation,... read more
It's "The Outermost House" of trucks
By A Customer
- May 11, 1999
Read "The Outermost House" by Henry Beston, then go read this book; you will see what I mean. While it is true that Beston is a much better writer, the reader gets the same philosophical analysis and feeling of journey. You don't have to like trucks to enjoy this book; however if you've ever cursed at a rusted bolt, skinned your knuckles, or wrecked a hard to get part, this book is for you. It is funny, sometimes poignant view of technology.
A funny and engaging book about trucks and more.
By A Customer
- March 4, 1999
Jerome's "Truck" is a funny and entertaining book about rebuilding an old truck and the soul searching that ensues in the process. It is similar to Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," but not quite as serious or self-conscious. But, it does have the same form of being about adventures in the mechanical world while really being about something else. Jerome's book is actually about trucks, but at the same time it is about life in rural New England, our relationship to the modern world, and just about anything else that comes to his mind on a given day. His randomness is refreshing because it is more real. Jerome can be a little judgmental at times and is a little bit on the na?ve-liberal side, but not in the "suburban soccer mom" way of more recent rural immigrants. But, he is rarely preachy and the book is one of the few honest accounts of life in rural New England.
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