In the Spotlight this month is The Road Has Eyes: An RV, A Relationship and a Wild Ride. Join us throughout the week while we take a look at this book and its author Arthur Rosch. See the 5 Star Review and 5 More Questions
Title: The Road Has Eyes: A Relationship, An RV and a Wild Ride / Art Rosch
Genre: Non-Fiction / Travel / RV -Camping / Spiritual
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Date of publish: September 2014
Were they crazy? Could Art and Fox leave the house and move into an RV full time? Art was a photographer/astronomer and wanted to escape city lights. Fox needed to explore her Native American roots. They started learning RVs. They were victorious but not before they courted utter disaster. The humor of this book seems to lie in the disasters. THE ROAD HAS EYES is a surprising and fun read.
This memoir is about making the transition from living in a house to living in an RV. In 2004 Art and Fox resided in a cottage in the woods of Marin County in Northern California. They had purchased a used recreational vehicle for travel to the southwest. Fox had recently discovered that she was one half Chiricahua Apache. This confirmed a nagging suspicion that had haunted her for more than forty years. The couple could use the RV to explore their passions. Fox wanted to connect with her Native American heritage and Art wanted to go places where he could master his photography and enjoy his enthusiasm for astronomy. They pointed themselves and their rickety RV towards Arches National Park and hit the road without any experience or preparation. The book begins with the story of their meeting. Art was using the internet to get into foolish and comical situations. He met Fox through a mix-up, through one of those fated coincidences that seems ordained by the spirits. Soon they were living together and the idea of RV travel was deeply appealing. They quickly got into trouble. Every crisis led them to people whose kindness and generosity had no ulterior motive When they finally got to the area of Moab, Utah the trip took on an eerie tone, as if they had traveled back in time. The Four Corners area is inherently surreal. Strange things began to happen; strange powers began to emerge through Fox. Art writes about her psychic abilities in childhood and the ways in which they were stimulated when the pair began their travels. In THE ROAD HAS EYES Art describes the process of acquiring a more sophisticated motor home. The search for a new vehicle took them to Florida. The return drive in a 38 foot RV coach was an epic journey. Art and Fox were following the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Driving across the south on Interstate Ten was like descending through Dante’s hellish circles. All the campgrounds in three states were filled with refugees from the storm. A Canadian family wanted company and offered to treat the adventurers to a three day binge at Disneyland. Sure! Why not? Art’s chapter “Disneyland as Hell” is a comic masterpiece of social observation. THE ROAD HAS EYES-A RELATIONSHIP, AN RV AND A WILD RIDE THROUGH INDIAN COUNTRY is an exciting and funny exploration of America as seen through the eyes of two odd characters who chose the road less traveled.
Art Rosch’s book captivated me from the beginning, not because it exudes drama, but because I could relate so well to the story-teller.
The book is readable and funny. Art’s quirky self-honesty, his perceptive ability to draw a character, and his keen insight into the feelings and hurts of others, all make this book an intimate journey. He writes with understanding born of deep introspection. I loved the descriptions of his early hippy days, his fear of commitment and the hilarious dating disasters.
And Fox! Fox was presented to him in a way Art could only see as the intervention of fate, or the match-making of ‘the Grandmothers’. Fox had lived through a disastrously abusive marriage and their relationship bloomed somewhat late in life. Part Apache, Fox is a roller-coaster, larger-than-life mate with extra-sensory perception and a hot-line to the Apache ancestors.
Their adventures in driving their RV around America demonstrates Art’s struggle with his fears and a perceptible triumphing over their stranglehold.
Art is an award-winning photographer, a very competent musician, as well as a writer, and I look forward to reading his other work.
-reviewed the day of purchase by Lyn Pickering
Every campground has its own personality. Ours is family –oriented, safe. The owners make their bread and butter during the summer months when mom, dad and the kids get into their RVs and go to some place that isn’t very strenuous. Adults are too tired these days to do heavy duty camping with their kids. Kountry Kampground Northbay provides the perfect “out” for exhausted parents. It’s also a favorite destination of Canadian and European tourists who want to see San Francisco and the vineyards from a single home base.
Now and then, however, a few creepy people sneak under the home-grown radar.
When we arrived in March of 2005 we knew nothing about how to conduct our lives in a campground. We took a site that was at the center of the northern campground. We had people coming and going on both sides, as well as fore and aft. We had a continual round of new neighbors.
At first this was somewhat unnerving. Soon enough we discovered that if we wanted to schmooze, we could say hello, and if we didn’t, we could keep to ourselves and be left alone.
The only problem that wouldn’t go away was the strange couple who lived in a teeny weeny trailer in the row immediately behind us.
When I say teeny weeny, I’m talking about an RV model called “The Casita” or “little house”. It is nothing more than a sleeping bag with walls. It’s interior is about the size of a Japanese capsule hotel room. A person can just about sit upright without banging the head. It has a little sink, a propane burner and a tiny porta-potty that must be emptied frequently.
It’s difficult to imagine two people and a Dalmatian dog living full time in one of these wheeled packing crates. Yet they were there, coming and going. Unfortunately, the dog didn’t get to come and go. He stayed locked in this dreadfully tiny space. He howled his loneliness and claustrophobic misery in a way that turned our lives into hell. This was our first month at the campground, and this is what we had for neighbors.
Fox and I we went helplessly berserk over this dog. We tried to hatch schemes to liberate him from his plight. There was something dreadfully “off” about the couple who owned the dog. If I make the statement, “I couldn’t look at them”, I want you to take me literally.
Every time I tried, my eyes seemed to meet a force field that deflected vision. My sight could get to within a foot or so of Ms.X or Mr. Y and then my eyeballs would physically bounce a few feet farther along, repelled by a barrier occupying the space at which I was attempting to look. This was one of the strangest things I have ever experienced.
I asked one of my neighbors to look at the couple next time the opportunity arose. I asked for a brief description of the people who were living within eight yards of our coach. The dog was no problem. I could see the dog when he was let out on a chain. I couldn’t see the people. I could hear them, I could make out their voices if not their words, I knew when their pickup truck pulled into and out of the parking space. Fox and I said hello a few times and were completely ignored. That’s weird, to greet a person who responds by behaving as if you don’t exist.
The next day my other neighbor came over and said, “I’ll be damned if I can figure out what they look like. I can’t really see them. Maybe they just move so fast I can’t draw a bead.”
The human eye moves extremely quickly. It wanders, far more than we consciously know. Eye movement is the fastest muscular action in the human body. These lightning quick movements are called saccades. I read a science fiction novel recently in which alien creatures knew how to scan human eye saccades and move only during those micro-seconds when human beings were looking away. This created a ‘just-at-the- edge-of- -vision’ effect, and gave the aliens a tactical advantage in outmaneuvering their enemies.
Whatever the cause, I could not look at, I could not see these people. They must have wanted so badly to be invisible that they had created a psychological force field. This mysterious couple evaded eye contact, they moved in such a manner as to attract minimum attention. They did not engage in conversation. They had taken the adjective “furtive” to a new level. Somehow, they had established an invisibility matrix, they had tuned in to the collective saccade. Fox couldn’t see them. My neighbors saw them more than we did, but not much. My neighbors could detect a few details of clothing or hair color but their faces were enigmas.
Only the dog provided a common ground of agreement that they were there at all. Otherwise, they would have been “the people who weren’t there.”
Art Rosch was raised in the suburbs of St. Louis. He attended Western Reserve and Wayne State University, but wasn’t much of a student. He worked through his teens and twenties as a jazz and blues drummer. He met a girl who liked poets, so he became a poet. He found that he was attracted to the writing more than to the girl. He began exploring the novel form in the late seventies and wrote his first novel around ’77. It was terrible.
In 1969 Art moved to the San Francisco area. His first sale was to Playboy Magazine in ’78. The story won “Best Story Of the Year” and he enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame. Since then he’s been doing what most writers do: collecting bales of rejections and honing his craft. He has published in EXQUISITE CORPSE, TRUCKIN’, SHUTTERBUG, POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY and, yes, CAT FANCY. Art loves science fiction and fantasy and much of his writing is inspired by the work of Philip K. Dick and Jack Vance. He teaches courses in amateur astronomy and photography through local parks and recreation centers.
For more about this author Check out Lian Asks: 5 Questions with Artur Rosch part 1 and come back later this week for part 2.
In His Own Words:
If you could reduce your audience description to one sentence, what would it be?
I write for people who are interested in psychotherapy. I’ll define therapy broadly: it’s the honest inquiry into your deepest self. A character in one of my books says, “The more you see the invisible parts of yourself, the less you crash into the invisible parts of other people.” If a person is not engaged in a lifelong quest to understand themselves, they’re likely doomed to confusion and futility. That’s why I seek an audience that’s engaged in understanding their own deeper motives and feelings.
What are you working on next?
I have a trilogy called “THE SHADOW STORM”. It’s fantasy, strictly speaking. Its world is one that resembles earth just before World War One. The airplane hasn’t been refined. Electric power, automobiles, communications are just ramping up momentum that will soon transform the world. At this moment, a war is about to begin. THE SHADOW STORM world is a quirky Balkan-tinged landscape in which my characters are trying to save a newly established Republic from destruction by stronger nations.
It’s a big project; I have the first draft of Book One finished. It’s pure adventure: political, military and romantic!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee. Morning is the worst part of my day. I manage my depression in the morning. That means coffee first, then oatmeal. When I’ve eaten I get on a bike and pedal furiously for about half an hour. By this time I have detoxified most of my negative emotions and can get on with the day’s work, which consists of caring for my family. Since I live in a 38 foot RV this family consists of my partner, the famous Fox and two tea-cup poodles and three elderly cats. The fish, General Stonewall Jackson, passed from this earthly plane last year. His last words were, “yer some kind of writer, hahaha! bubble..gurrrg.” He was a Cichlid. They come from the Congo. Is this inspiring? Hardly. It’s quotidian. But the little things, the daily things, the lure of that coffee…oh my, it does get me out of bed.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I wrote was pretty much plagiarism. I was in the third grade. I was reading historical fiction and thrillers. I cribbed the basic plot from Mika Waltari’s THE EGYPTIAN and changed it around so it seemed more original. My teacher gave me an A+. I felt no guilt whatsoever. It was good practice. The first line was “Yitzhak the brewer; Yitzhak the stinking brewer!” He was trying to escape the siege of his city by tunneling. He digs the long arduous tunnel, only to emerge in the middle of the besieging army.
He had dug his way into the Commander’s tent!
What is your writing process?
I keep it all in my head. No notes, no outlines. I know the ending, the goal of the story. One of my big novels dictated its own ending as if a voice recited in my mind as I drove home. That was how I began, with the ending. I take in all of my influences: Jack Vance, Phili Dick, Kurosawa, jazz, Jungian psychology. If I know the next scene, I’m happy. I can keep writing and making progress. I allow the characters to appear in my dreams and the action proceeds THROUGH character. If I mis-write a scene, it’s because the character wouldn’t do that particular thing. Remember Lord Acton’s old saw: Character Is Destiny. Foremost in my mind is the concept of transformation. A character (a protagonist, anyway) is in a process of transformation, of working through personal flaws and defects so that life can be lived more fully. Heroism is the ability to admit the truth and make changes. My writing is mildly structured; there’s plenty of room for improvisation. Mostly it’s the act of writing itself. Things emerge that I did not expect and when they feel right and truthful I recognize those qualities. I use persistence, revision, constant imagining, keeping a mental storehouse of scenes and situations–I guess that’s how I write.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I learned to read with DICK AND JANE. The ability to read hit me in the first grade like a thunderclap! In one great moment I “got it”.
I figured out the connections between letters and the sounds they represented. I guess my first mature story was the aforesaid novel, THE EGYPTIAN. It was in the school library. I read Waltari’s other books, THE ETRUSCAN, THE ROMAN, every one that was available. I’ve been reading ever since. I loved it! I became omnivorous. I read the entire set of encyclopedia from A to Z. I was just a teensy bit ahead of kids my age in reading comprehension. I was a dismal student. I didn’t pay attention. I was always lost in a fantasy. Third graders were reading FARMER BILL AND THE BIG STORM. I was reading Dickens. My sanity and my very life have flowed from reading that first book.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read everything. I read history, biography, science fiction and fantasy, novels, mysteries. I’ve read every book by James Lee Burke. He’s got soul! Thrillers get tiresome because it’s always the hero’s mentor or best friend who turns out to be behind all the attempts to expunge him from the earth. The Good GuyTurns Bad Guy syndrome. I watch a lot of TV, and I consider a TV series or a film to be writing, too. It wouldn’t exist without its writers and the quality of the writing determines the quality of the film or series. So I watch TV and analyze the writing for pleasure. I like science books on astronomy, cosmology etc so long as they’re not too technical. A writer like Timothy Ferris is excellent for that kind of enlightenment.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don’t have one yet. I have my computer. Does that make me a dinosaur? Probably. I almost messed my pants one day when a Chinese man overtook me on the sidewalk as he was speaking into an earpiece concealed by his hair. A torrent of Chinese invective dopplered towards me and I thought he was 1.talking angrily to me or 2.stark raving mad. It turns out he was merely tech and I had to do a double-take to figure things out. Nowadays everyone is apparently talking to themselves.
Describe your desk
Sometimes it’s a little messy. I sit in front of a 22″ screen and my keyboard rests atop my closed laptop. Bills and receipts are beneath the monitor. USB cords zip off in every direction. Stacks of DVDs and CDs load two spindles. Cloths for wiping my glasses are near at hand. I can look right out the window but I have to keep the curtain closed or I can’t see the monitor. I also have two cats who walk all over my keyboard and mouse. They are both senile and I can’t be mean to them, can I?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I was 18 I had an experience. Call it a visionary experience. One of the components of this experience was a voice speaking into my ear, as if someone stood right next to me. It said, “You have many precious gifts. These gifts come from god. They are not your own; they are as if borrowed, and you only get to keep them if you use them in the right way. You must prepare yourself, make yourself worthy of these gifts. It’s your nature to be creative. Make yourself worthy of what you’ve been given. Make yourself worthy.” So..I changed my life. I began to practice Yoga. I adopted a healthy diet. I exercised and I studied. I did everything RIGHT. Within ten years I had become a street person, a degenerate addict, homeless and devastated with a sense of self-betrayal. How did this happen to me? I wondered and wondered how it was possible to have such a pure intention and then go off the rails and end up in Hell. Along the way to this place someone had once said to me, “when you get into trouble you have to ask for help. You can’t get out of it alone.” So I did that, asked for help. And I spent the next fifteen years in therapy. I couldn’t afford therapy but I worked at jobs like gas station attendant, construction laborer, house painter and I put together enough income to pay for my therapy. The question was “What is the greatest joy of writing for you?” I understand that writing comes from experience of the human condition and at eighteen I was a child, I knew nothing of the human condition.
I felt like some kind of god, I felt special. I damaged my body so that my mobility is limited. I had to give up a lot of dreams; I had to give up being a jazz drummer. But I can write. The fact that I can write fills me with limitless gratitude. I did the best I could to be worthy of my gifts and writing is a gift that still lives within me. It doesn’t matter whether or not I succeed. Well, yes it does, but I don’t see success as sales of books, I see it as the production of beauty, the telling of timeless stories and the ability to inspire and inform other people of what the world looks like to me.
See our 5 Star review of this book HERE