Off Ramp by Hank Stuever
Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere

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Synopsis

"I'm the one they send to the trailer park outside Chimayo, New Mexico, to see the place where the guy went crazy and shot somebody. I'm the one who gets sent to the monster truck show, Lollapalooza concerts, the world's biggest bridal fair. Readers warm to my style . . . unless it drives them to apoplexy."-H.S.

Take the off ramp to the world of Hank Stuever, a truly original writer who captures the humorous and haunting rhythms of modern American lives

Hank Stuever's funny, touching reports take us to everyday places where the increasingly unusual realities of today's world run rampant. Stuever--twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--calls this terrain the American Elsewhere. He finds it by bypassing Big News and taking off ramps to places where seemingly ordinary people lead lives just slightly off-kilter. Stuever's Elsewhere extends through trailer parks, roller rinks, malls no longer sparkling, and suburbs where robot dogs growl and bored children jump off rooftops using Hefty-bag parachutes.
From Star Wars conventions to credit disasters, from snipers to missing persons, there is always something happening in Elsewhere-and Hank Stuever never misses a scintilla of the action. In Off Ramp, his destinations include Plano, Texas, home of two friends both named Angie ("Plano princesses") who turn home décor disasters over to a TV decorating show and wind up at war against orange carpet. In Washington D.C, we meet a pony-tailed "sofa surgeon" who confronts the mysteries of the universe and couches that won't go through doorways. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a spiral-permed secretary begins an odyssey toward marriage that takes her from anxiety dreams ("I'm walking down the aisle and nobody is looking at me or anything") to anxiety that is no dream. And we are there.
We visit discount funeral homes ("Let's say you're dead..."), campgrounds where international bonds are formed ("We are from Netherlands, and we are for two days wonderink, who it is you are storage facilities where America keeps its strangest secrets. We meet the men who drew the comic-book characters (including Wonder Woman) Stuever loved as a child professional bowlers, waterbed aficionados, and some Texans on "debris drives" in search of pieces of the fallen Columbia shuttle. Finally, we travel to Stuever's hometown of Oklahoma lCity where the bombing of the Alfred P.Murrah federal building has created a kind of Elsewhere he has never seen before.
You never know quite where Hank Stuever is going to take you. Off Ramp is the terrific debut of a fresh, humane, one-of-a-kind journalistic voice.
 

About Hank Stuever

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Hank Stuever's work is currently seen in The Washington Post, where he is a staff writer. He has twice been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing and has appeared on Today, MSNBC, and various radio programs. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published July 6, 2004 by Henry Holt and Co.. 320 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Off Ramp

Kirkus Reviews

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Oklahoman Stuever, now a Washington Post Style section writer, having reported from locales including LA, Albuquerque, and Austin, describes his beat of defunct malls, K-Marts, and sci-fi conventions as “Elsewhere .

| Read Full Review of Off Ramp: Adventures and Hear...

Entertainment Weekly

Chandra Levy, self-storage facilities, ''Star Wars'' fanatics, and water-bed saleswomen receive equally lovely treatment from Washington Post writer Stuever's razor-sharp eye.

Jul 23 2004 | Read Full Review of Off Ramp: Adventures and Hear...

Austin Chronicle

The former Statesman writer and Pulitzer Prize-winner does the kind of writing we'll always need: funny, fascinating stories of people and places.

Jul 16 2004 | Read Full Review of Off Ramp: Adventures and Hear...

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