Dave Dudley, Colm Tóibín, and little white pills
Knowing thyself is the point of "Six Days on the Road," that classic trucker song from 1963. Really, it's true. All that country singer Dave Dudley wants to do is get home to his baby. So he blasts through speed zones, dodges weigh stations and avoids the state patrol. To get through the long night, he takes some little white pills. Now his "eyes are open wide."
So is his mind. The solitude, uppers and time on his hands lead inevitably to moments of self-revelation. As a man alone on the road, the last of America's rugged frontier, he could have a lot of women. He has that freedom -- and that power -- but he knows it can't be. He's not afraid his sin will find him out. He just knows his place. "I could never make believe it's all right." So he's going home. Six days away from baby is long enough.
Freedom to explore who you are, and who you will become over time, is inconceivable to Eilis Lacey, the young adult heroine of Colm Tóibín's charming, witty and unsentimental new novel, Brooklyn (Scribner, 272 pages, $25). Growing up in the small Irish town of Enniscorthy in the 1950s, she fully expects to follow in mother's footsteps -- school, marriage, kids. Life for Eilis is easy to anticipate, like the mist rolling in every morning from the Irish Sea.
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