Trucking Hell is the second book by “Bowen T Hunter” and has had something of a turbulent history, not unlike the author himself. The book was scheduled to be published through a real bona-fide publisher and everything. Unfortunately due to one thing and another it didn’t happen, so Hunter was poked until he released it on Lulu.
Due to the rather odd nature of the Lulu system, the book went up for sale before Hunter had finished finalising the design and the proofs. I was a little keen off the mark and so am the proud owner of what can be described as a “proof” copy, with little highlight mark in and a few spelling mistakes. This review is based upon this version of the book, there may be some discrepancies between this and the final one.
This book is a collection of episodes from Hunter’s life as a trucker. As quoted from the rear cover, “For years truck drivers have been given a bad press. This book in no way attempts to correct that image.” He completely fails at this. Hunter is himself rather accident prone having seen and read first hand evidence of this repeatedly. For several years Hunter has maintained a very active
LiveJournal, blogging away his day to day incidents in such a way that can only make you think that God selected him specifically to be the butt of all butt jokes. This book continues in his humorous, conversational style that makes you feel as if these stories are being recanted to you over a casual pint at the local.
The individual stories are typically ten pages in length, and recount an episode per story. They are self-contained units of storytelling but inter-lock together elegantly to tell a single career-long story. They’re an adequate length to read on a bus journey or between train stops.
This is the first book in a long time that has left me blue in the face and gasping for breath, having laughed so hard for what feels like hours on end. I present to you three words: instant, mashed, potato.
That is not to make the book out to be entirely light-hearted. In between the various japes all over Europe and Bath there are some real heart wrenches which will leave you feeling immediately sober again, at least until Hunter next gets hit by something. These pauses are important and add depth and humanity to the stories. If you ever get a chance to meet the man, you’ll see these stories reflected in his face.
For all the positive, there are a few misgivings with the book. Bearing in mind that I have read a rather odd copy due to the Lulu process, there are some quite serious and glaring spelling and grammar foul-ups. For some people this would be an immediate turn off. In most cases it probably would for me. But this book is so easy to read you hardly notice, and in a few cases it was only a few pages later I had noticed a gaff. Given a professional editor and publisher chain, these would have hopefully been ironed out before publication.
But the easy style does make it so hard to put down. My copy of this book and “How I Broke Bath and Other Stories” (Hunter’s first book) arrived in the post yesterday. Yesterday afternoon I started reading, and this morning I had finished all 350 pages of it. It was put down once in that period to catch a few hours sleep and that was it.
If you’re looking for something a little different, maybe you’ve got a trans-atlantic flight with time to kill, or you’re looking for some light-reading for a holiday, you can’t go far wrong with this book. This is one of those rare things, something I may consider as bloke-lit. I have no idea if women will connect to the stories on the same level, but I think all men have a universal genetic connection which will give this book appeal.
You can buy the book at Lulu.