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Toni Sala’s Notes from the Road

In case you missed it on Friday, Toni Sala wrote a bold and entertaining account of his U.S. tour for Lit Hub. The playful yet frank tone of the author shouldn’t be too surprising to those of you who caught our launch event for The Boys in San Francisco last fall. His novel, translated by Mara Faye Lethem, begins with a description of a highway through rural Catalonia, and later on in the story we hear from a frustrated truck driver, struggling to find work. So I was intrigued to see what Toni would think of the open road here in the United States, thousands of miles from his novel’s setting.

“When I’m flying over Texas, I do the math. Fifteen planes, nine hotels, 45,700 kilometers… Something doesn’t fit. I am a Catalan writer. We Catalans know what precariousness is, and we know that the literature is a weed that grows well in these conditions: in times of moral drought, in places of communicative drought, in periods of economic drought, in circumstances of loving drought, of self-satisfaction drought… It’s at these times when literature is distilled.”

These kinds of musings are typical of the writer. Toni amasses little details that we, as Americans, might otherwise miss, into an incredibly entertaining snapshot of life on the road. From a discussion with a cab driver in Texas to an encounter with a heavy metal band in Portland, he manages to transform the hardly-worth-mentioning into vignettes that produce a sketch, however strange, of a vast and cumbersome country.