Release date: April 3, 2008
Date acquired/borrowed: October 7, 2008
Start reading date: October 11, 2008
Finished reading: October 13, 2008
British humourist Dave Gorman had toured America with his one-man show, 40 cities for the better part of the year. Throughout the whole experience he clashed time after time with the organizers of his tour resulting in an altogether miserable experience, exacerbated by the fact that Gorman wasn’t touring America at all, instead just sleeping in the same cookie-cutter hotel room in many different locations, eating the same food, finding practically the same experience everywhere he went. Growing up, he’d heard the legend of America, seen the glory of it’s diversity on TV and in movies, it was something full of awe and wonder, mystery and majesty. But it would seem it’s devolved into a melting pot not of people and cultures but of products, brands, labels, and trademarks. After returning home to London, Gorman seriously wanted to know if there was anything left of the America that those who grew up idolizing it (in a sense), and, as those familiar with Gorman’s previous work would surmise, a plan was hatched.
The idea behind America Unchained was to see if Gorman, without any advanced planning, could arrive on the west coast, buy a car and drive to the east coast without ever gassing up at a branded gas station, eat at a franchise restaurant, use a corporate repair shop, or stay in a chain hotel. Of course, that’s the simple version and Gorman throws a severe monkey wrench into the works when he insists on buying a “proper” American car, something older than him, which, at 36 years of age, means an ancient (relatively speaking) and untrustworthy beast indeed. He lucks out and finds a well-maintained, single-owner Torino station wagon in San Diego, but even a well maintained car will produce plenty of problems after 30+ years.