Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Driving Alone - Kevin Lynn Helmick

First line: "And then there was the heat."

Billy Keyhoe is on the run in his daddy's old Cadillac. After robbing a Georgia gas station convenience store, he's heading west toward Texas. That is until he encounters Feather, a young woman hitchhiking at a crossroads. Something about her intrigues him and he simply wants to be around her. When she asks which way he's heading, Billy says Savannah and the two of them start back east in his Caddy.

Driving Alone is the story of Billy and Feather's journey; a journey taking place on multiple levels, both physical and emotional. From the car they ride in to the direction they head, the events throughout the journey are rich in significance.

Helmick uses strong imagery and metaphor to bring out the sense of place in this novella. The backwoods, dirt-poor South is as much a character as Billy and Feather; a good portion of their journey happens at night and there's significance in that as well.  The laid-back, no-rush-to-get-there pacing matches that Southern setting.

Billy is the unlikeable protagonist, exhibiting many of the stereotypes of a white trash male. Feather is full of spunk and life in her heart-shaped sun glasses. The characters together are at times electric and at times caustic; the question becomes when will they ignite and explode?

This gritty Southern Gothic tale takes many curves along Billy and Feather's road; they may not always be unexpected curves, but the atmosphere and symbolism make this a ride worth tagging along for.

Driving Alone is available in paperback from Blank Slate Press (ISBN: 978098288069). My review is part of the TLC book tour. You can check out what others had to say about Driving Alone at through their website?


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