Any Road Will Take You There

Any Road Will Take You There

With Father’s Day still on our minds, I want to call attention to a new memoir written by my friend and fellow Chicago Writers Association member, David Berner, entitled, Any Road Will Take You There. (And I know this would have been so much better for all involved had I written and posted it before Father’s Day, but hey, I work for an airline so, seriously, what do you expect?)

As a child, Berner was a huge fan of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, often carrying a well-worn copy in the back pocket of his jeans, enamored with Kerouac’s appealing story of dropping everything for the romance of the open road. Berner writes, “But in those days, I didn’t have the guts to act on the messages in Kerouac’s road bible. Hell, I didn’t even own a car.” As an adult, Berner found himself once again returning to the familiar territory of his favorite book, as he tried to come to grips with the death of his own father while going through a divorce and parenting two teenaged sons. “Like Paradise,” Berner writes, “I longed for a new start.” So Berner rents an RV and sets out with his sons on an epic five-thousand mile road trip, picking up his close friend, Brad (in Denver, ironically, the same town Dean Moriarty is from) and setting course (mostly) to follow Sal Paradise’s path through the West.

Absent fathers and their legacies wind their way through both Berner’s and Kerouac’s books as the protagonists search for meaning and an understanding of, well, life. That Kerouac’s Paradise and Moriarty never find Old Dean Moriarty is not lost upon the reader as we learn that Berner never really knew his estranged grandfather, and that both Berner’s father and Berner himself devote themselves completely to not repeating the errors of fathers past.

It’s a joy to follow Berner’s story as he works to solidify his connection with his sons while searching for his own understanding of fatherhood and the meaning of well, life. If you’re looking for a well-written and thought provoking tale about the trials and tribulations of fatherhood, replete with mistakes made, forgiveness given, plenty of laughs and a few tears, then Any Road Will Take You there is for you. Or even better, for you to give to your father. Because as we all know, celebrating fathers and fatherhood shouldn’t be reserved for only one day a year. (And that's my better-late-than-never go-to story and I'm sticking to it.)

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Filed under: Book Review, Family, Memoir, Parent

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