Tony D’Souza is the author of Mule, a new novel about a down-on-his-luck journalist who smuggles pot from California to Florida in order to raise some much-needed cash. We asked him to curate a list of ten books about road trips that influenced him while he was writing his novel, which comes out next week. He writes, “Pushing myself to look past the most obvious choices like On The Road or Travels With Charley, I saw how long and deep the roots of the road trip are in our cultural memory.” He continues, “The characters in each of these books becomes changed by the journeys they make in profound ways, in the same the sorts of ways any of us are when we make a long and taxing journey. The road trip becomes both bath and baptism, purging us of our old thoughts and preparing us to experience something new.” So read on, dear readers, and tell us your favorite books that feature a life-changing road trip.
“Epic of Gilgamesh”
Places traveled: Sumeria, Lebanon, the Underworld
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the best sort of road story: it’s a buddy tale. Gilgamesh, the arrogant king of Uruk, meets Enkidu, the hairy wild man, and a bromance develops along the lines of fastidious Luke Wilson and drunken Will Ferrell in Old School. Not only do Gilgamesh and Enkidu do a fair amount of Sideways-esque lady chasing as they develop into wingmen, but they also travel together to Lebanon, where they battle the monster Humbaba. When Enkidu later dies after the duo kill the Bull of Heaven, Gilgamesh’s sorrow is inconsolable, and he heads to the underworld in search of immortality. While any number of heroes like Heracles and Orpheus took similar trips, and Odysseus was on the road longer, among our culture’s ancient epic poetry, no one does friendship better than Gilgamesh. Any of us who’ve hit the road with a pal can relate.