Truckin’ With Sam
A Father and Son, The Mick and The Dyl, Rockin' and Rollin', On the Road
After years of thinking he’d never have kids, Lee Gutkind became a father at forty-seven and, following his divorce, soon found himself taking over more and more of the primary care responsibilities for his son, Sam. As one of a growing number of “old new dads” (recent studies have shown that one in ten children are born to fathers over forty), Gutkind realized that he faced challenges—both mental and physical—not faced by younger dads, not the least of which was how to bond with a son who was so much younger than he.
For the past seven years, Gutkind’s approach to this challenge has been to spend one to two months of every summer “truckin’” with Sam, a term they define as a metaphor for spontaneity, a lack of restriction: “Truckin’ means that you can do what you want to do sometimes; you don’t always need to do what’s expected.”
What began as long, cross-country journeys in a pickup truck, including one memorable trip up the Alaska-Canadian Highway en route to a writers’ conference in Homer, Alaska, have in more recent years ranged farther afield, to Europe, Australia, Tibet, and Africa. Whether listening to rock-and-roll music, entertaining themselves with their secret jokes and code words, fishing for halibut, or fighting over tuna fish sandwiches and how best to butter one’s toast, Lee and Sam have learned to respect one another. In the process of their travels and their adventures, Lee has also come to grips with the downside of middle age and the embarrassment of “senior moments,” while Sam has inevitably begun to assert himself and shape his own life.
Interspersed with Sam’s own observations and journal entries, Truckin’ with Sam is an honest, moving, and often hilarious account of one father’s determination to bond with his son, a spontaneous travelogue that will appeal to old dads, new dads, and women who want to know more about how dads (and sons) think and behave.
At 47, writer Gutkind (Keep It Real) finds himself divorced and an “old new dad,” full of insecurities about being able to communicate effectively and to relate openly with his son, Sam. Worried that the resentment he feels toward his own father™s lack of openness and communication will color his relationship to Sam, Gutkind sets off on the open road with his son in an effort to overcome his anxieties and to establish a closer relationship with Sam. For seven years, the two travel to various locations around the world–often conveniently located near a writer™s conference where the elder Gutkind is speaking–with the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Grateful Dead, among others, providing the soundtrack for the journey. The misadventures of the Gutkind men as they travel along the Alaska-Canada highway–Lee forgets their passports; he doesn™t have the necessary papers to show that Sam is his son; the pair constantly quarrel, with one blaming the other for whatever situation they™re in–form the spine of the book. Sam™s journal entries (written mostly when he was 13) are interspersed with Lee™s narrative of their travels and his reflections on the nature of family, love, and the father and son bond.
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