I first read this book last year because it was on the Guardian first book award longlist, and from the initial description (lead singer of super furry animals goes on road trip of discovery) i thought i would hate it. However the initial description sells it really short, it’s actually about Gruff Rhys (lead singer of super furry animals) following in the footsteps of John Evans an explorer from the 1600’s who tried to cross america to find a tribe of welsh speaking indians. He aimed to meet up with the Mandan indians as they were believed to be the most likely candidates.
So the book follows Gruff and a Felt puppet John Evans recreating the real John Evan’s journey I loved the book, first because it taught me somethng new i had never heard of the myth of welsh speaking indians or of this explorer, but he made some important contributions, including some of the maps that the fabled Lewis and Clark used to help them find the northwest passage. In the Modern roadtrip you also get to meet the modern representatives of some of these proud indan nations and to reflect on what is happening to them as a people now. The book is written really well and because the author performed concerts on the way you can also get an APP and a CD and a Film believe of the book. This irritate some people having extras but not me.
The reason it has taken me so long to post my review of this book is because i bought tickets to see the American interior tour right here in Leeds and i really enjoyed it, You can take two views of this book, read it as a book and it is really enjoyable, read the book and look at the media associated or go check out the tour and have an entirely different experience. In my mind Gruff rhys is simiar to some of my other favourite musicians (like Harvey andrews) in that he tells stories with his music and this makes him the perfect person to tell this story, if you are lucky enough to see the tour you get music and a lecture combined told with a subtle humour that is almost like what storytelling should be and what it used to be like before books, ok you wouldn’t have the awesome powerpoint presentation but the whole american interior experience feels to me like storytelling in its purest form, This book was my winner by far for the Guardian first book award and one of my favourite books of last year. If you havent already read it do yourself a favour and check it out, to enliven the experience i have included a picture of felt john evans and one of the american interior songs.