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Friday, April 13, 2018

Reader's Diary #1791- Eleanor Davis: You and A Bike and a Road

The title of Eleanor Davis's long distance cycling memoir is interesting. Rather than Me and A Bike and a Road, she's chosen to give it the second person You. As a daily journal, you'd expect the first person perspective, as a graphic novel you'd expect the perspective to keep changing. I suppose the title grounds the stories for readers, makes them empathize with Eleanor from the get go as she attempts a solo bicycle trip the from the Pacific to the Atlantic across the lower US states.

Personally, I don't feel I needed the push to envision myself in her place. I enjoy long distance bike trips and would prefer doing them on my own. I've not been brave enough yet to overnight on such a trip and as Eleanor was also a rookie on the beginning of her trip I can definitely relate to her nervousness and excitement and the reflections she makes about her mistakes. She also provides glimpses into her politics (especially as she notes excessive border controls) and I was happy to see we were kindred spirits in that regard as well.

Not that our experiences would be totally interchangeable. As a woman, she faced additional perils I would not. She also rides through a lot of desert land. That said, if I was to take on such an excursion from my current home, I'd have to face much longer distances before seeing another community and I'd be out of cell phone range for much of that should I run into trouble.

But, even without an interest in biking, I think other readers might appreciate the writing. The daily journaling, the focus on inner thoughts and astute observations of landscapes, flora and fauna, and people, is all quite calming (and captures much of what I enjoy about biking).

Davis's art here is sketchy; quick with simple, sometimes exaggerated lines. There are some hints at her real skill at drawing in her perspectives and so on, but I don't think it was meant to be a carefully crafted piece of art rather than honest, in-the-moment interpretations.

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