Thursday, June 09, 2011

Reader's Diary #721- Alex Debogorski: King of the Road

As I began Alex Debogorski's King of the Road I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I didn't have a big interest in reading it, even despite him being a local guy and star of a popular reality TV show. I've watched maybe 2 episodes of the Ice Road Truckers and both times it was meh. Boring at times, silly faux-dramatic at times. One of my dream jobs used to be trucker. Disappointing that I don't find the show more interesting. And most locals I've met seem to feel pretty much the same way. It seems that, bizarrely, the biggest fans are in the U.S..

But I also had reservations about the quality of writing. No, I'm not a snob against truckers. I've just read a lot of nonfiction lately written by people who don't normally write. They're usually all decently informative, but the writing has just been tolerated. Of course, I realize that Alex probably had more guidance at his disposal than say Nils Andrew Thompson who published his memoirs of teaching English in Japan. But even celebrity books, with professional editors at the helm, don't usually enjoy a reputation for high literary merit.

Yet the opening of King of the Road grabbed me. Alex talked about telling stories over the CB radio to his trucking buddies, just to past the time. The tone was humorous, but not over bearing, nostalgic and contemplative. I was reminded of my grandfather, story-teller extraordinaire. I buckled in and was looking forward to the long journey with Alex.

I won't say it went downhill from there, as I fear the trucking metaphors will take over if I don't stop now. It did, however, remind me less and less of my grandfather. Debogorski, as you may well imagine, is full of machismo. I wouldn't say conceited, but he's proud that he has the ability to beat someone up, for instance. I've not met Debogorski, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb, when I say we're very different people, him and I.

All of which would be fine. So I'm not reminded of my grandfather when I read about Debogorski fighting a guy in a moving vehicle. That's okay. I wanted to read a little history on this character, I didn't have to relate. I didn't even need to like him. But I did find it problematic when his opinions started taking over the stories and facts. Yes, Debogorski's entitled to his opinions on the RCMP. His opinions may even be different than mine. But they seemed very out of place in King of the Road. And once it happened once, more and more opinions and rants kept flooding in. The memoir increasing became more political towards the middle. Again, Debogorski isn't a writer by trade, but you'd think an editor would have stepped up. "Interesting opinions, Mr. Debogorski. But perhaps this isn't the place to get into them. Let's get King of the Road out there first and if it sells a million of copies, we'll start on the Debogorski Diatribes or something." Alas, that didn't happen and by the end, when Debogorski starts writing about Ice Road Truckers, my interest matched my interest in the show itself.


Axel said...

Very interesting! I'll for this book. Maybe some of you knows:Does it come in an e-version as well? And, if yes, where would I he able to get one?

John Mutford said...

Axel: Interestingly, this book is available in an e-version ( but I can't seem to see an e-version available in Canada. Though when Ice Road Truckers first came out, it was only available in the US and few Yellowknifers had even seen it.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The lapse into Don Cherry Land may just be enough to keep me away from this book.

Jodie Robson said...

It's shown here in the UK and I watched it for a while, because it seems quite exotic from a British point of view. I thought he was one of the more interesting drivers, but maybe the editing was better! We kept ourselves amused watching it by trying to predict how many times they could show the graphic of the lorry going through the ice, but it got too repetitive after a while :-)

Wanda said...

Though not for me, my son may like this book ... he's watched a few episodes of Ice Road Truckers.

Do Yellowknifers get "Ice Pilots NWT"?

John Mutford said...

Barbara: The Don Cherry comparison may not be far off actually.

Geranium Cat: Oh, yes, he's is interesting-- in the book and on the show, for short periods at least. In real life, I don't know.

Wanda: We do. And I have flown with Buffalo Air, and I work with a spouse of one of the pilots.