Monday, April 16, 2012

Day One Hundred Seven: "Three Hundred and Forty-Five Horsepower" by Irving Shulman


A young lawyer drives his sports car up the east coast and picks up a "tramp" or hitchhiker on the way. Through their conversations, you get a sort of warning from the tramp about what life can throw at you and how choices you make can shape everything and you see the smug lawyer looking for ways to fix the tramp but you can see, as the reader, that the lawyer isn't really listening like he should. He's driving and he's going fast. His life seems to be on the same speed and this great excerpt illustrates just this:

"With half of his attention given to the road, because never wanted it said of him that he was a man driven by his automobile,he could still hear the monologue of the old man at his side, a monologue of many wanderings...there were countless, better to have lost count, cold showers and bars of abrasive soap in the missions, the necessity to sleep in the raw in unheated dormitories with the two legs at the head of his cot stuck into each of his miserable shoes to keep them from being stolen."

Then, in a clever twist, the young lawyers finds himself questioning whether the tramp is his own father who had abandoned him as a child. When the story concludes, the reader finds the lawyer abandoning the tramp at a restaurant and driving already guilt ridden and swearing himself to secrecy over the meeting of this man and we know he is going to drive his car into perhaps as devastating a future as the tramp had.

WOW...this story was fantastic as a whole. The metaphor being played with was perfect and subtle. I'd read more of this writer for sure.

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