"Like a great conversationalist, Hanick paints a generous canvas, and I rode the length of this powerful book much like I first experienced the American interstate: songs on the stereo, windows down, and the bittersweet sense that youth is fleeting.Read more...
"Like a great conversationalist, Hanick paints a generous canvas, and I rode the length of this powerful book much like I first experienced the American interstate: songs on the stereo, windows down, and the bittersweet sense that youth is fleeting. Three Kinds of Motion holds open a wild and beautiful journey, not to be missed."--Thalia Field
In 1943, Peggy Guggenheim commissioned a mural from Jackson Pollock to hang in the entryway of her Manhattan townhouse. It was the largest Pollock canvas she would ever own, and four years later she gave it to a small Midwestern institution with no place to put it. When the original scroll of On the Road goes on tour across the country, it lands at the same Iowa museum housing Peggy's Pollock, revitalizing Riley Hanick's adolescent fascination with the author. Alongside these two narrative threads, Hanick revisits Dwight D. Eisenhower's quest to build America's first interstate highway system. When catastrophic rains flood the Iowa highways with their famous allure and history of conquest, they also threaten the museum and its precious mural. In Three Kinds of Motion, his razor-sharp, funny, and intensely vulnerable book-length essay, Hanick moves deftly between his three subjects. He delivers a story with breathtaking ingenuity.
Riley Hanick is an essayist, journalist, and translator. His work has received support from the Jentel and McKnight foundations and he has served as a writer-in-residence for the University of Iowa Museum of Art. He teaches at Murray State University.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-02
- Reviewer: Staff
Two coinciding exhibits at the University of Iowa Museum of Art in 2005—the display of Jackson Pollock’s sprawling canvas Mural and the manuscript scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road—are coupled with the museum’s endangerment by a highway-channeled flood in 2008, inviting a tangle of philosophic reflections in this convoluted essay on art, commerce, and the building of America’s interstate highway system. As interpreted by journalist and essayist Hanick, Pollock’s development as a leading abstract expressionist, Kerouac’s efforts to give voice to the restless spirit of his generation, and the Eisenhower administration’s systematic plan to impose order on America’s roadways were all boundary-pushing explorations of new frontiers. Though Hanick draws interesting parallels between these and other mid-20th-century cultural phenomena, his presentation of them in fragmented bursts of insight never coheres into a pattern with deeper meaning or significance. Hanick’s narrative is a mix of fascinating historical details about his main subjects and sometimes frustratingly opaque flights of fancy. He alternates illuminating observations such as “the highway replaces space with motion,” with indulgently abstract reflections: “The highway is a mediating skin. A place where our long daydream of ourselves might still be sustained.” With its introduction of extraneous details from the author’s personal life, this book is more a portrait of an imagination engaged than of the subjects that engaged it. (Apr.)