Penniless In America

The Kindness of Strangers

Penniless Across America

Mike McIntyre * Berkley Books, 1996 * 246 pages $12.00

Brother can you spare a dime? One man’s journey across the United States says Americans are still open hearted, will help a stranger in need. Mike McIntyre, a successful journalist with a yen for adventure, traveled without money and accepted none from the people he met. Told with wry wit, these portraits of the Americans who give Mike rides, food, and shelter for the night offer a glimpse of life in the flatlands. Mike meets some bad characters too, narrowly avoiding scary trouble, a couple of times. He’s harassed by police on the edge of one town, but given shelter by different cops elsewhere. Though most of the people who offer Mike food and shelter are usually poor, sometimes he’s surprised and receives assistance from a wealthy family.

 

He learns more about Christian believers who are quick to help him and they learn that a human professing no religion can be respectable and happy. The narrative is a can’t-put-it-down read which explores themes of faith, gratitude and a hunger for the surprises dished out on the unknown road.

A few years ago, I worked with Mike on a news desk at the Washington Post — tough to find a cooler or more decent guy, true man of letters who can write about theater, art, or crime with informed ease.

References:

Digihitch – site dedicated to hitch-hiking culture

— Read a longer article about Mike McIntyre   Salon

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