Friday, March 19, 2010

Carjacked in our Asphalt Nation:

Will We Divorce Our Cars at the End of the Road?

Every so often, it seems, we need a literary reminder of the issues troubling our automotive love affair, and there emerges a full-blown critique of car culture. I base this judgment on the periodic release, over the last few decades, of several books fitting this description.

Here are a few of late-20th century books that I’d put in the category of car culture critique (this is not by any means comprehensive, so please feel free to comment with your own favorite titles):

The Highway and the City by Lewis Mumford, 1963
The Insolent Chariots by John Keats, 1964
Road to Ruin by A.Q. Mowbray, 1969
Autokind vs. Mankind by Kenneth Schneider, 1971
Crabgrass Frontier by Kenneth Jackson, 1985
The End of the Road by Wolfgang Zuckermann, 1991
For Love of the Automobile by Wolfgang Sachs, 1992
The Elephant in the Bedroom by Stanley Hart and Alvin Spivak, 1993
Asphalt Nation by Jane Holtz Kay, 1997

As of the 21st century, we have my own contribution to the literature, Divorce Your Car! which came out in May of 2000. And now we have another fine book, Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and its Effect on our Lives, by Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez. I’ve been reading this book lately, and I find its stories and analysis very insightful.

I’m just about to finish Carjacked as I prepare to host a chat with the authors – that’s coming up tomorrow 3/20 from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern time in the Book Salon of the website. We’ll be talking about Carjacked, and about questions like the one I raised in my title-composed-of-titles for this blog post. Please join us!

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