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Rather than a road movie, this is a road book, about Dave Gorman's mission to drive across America from east to west, avoiding all chains when it comes to food, petrol and accommodation - hence "unchained". He wanted to see if he could, in modern day America, drive across the country without giving any money to Wal-Mart, Shell, Holiday Inn etc, instead shopping in "mom and pop" stores and staying in independently owned motels. I found the book gripping because, of course, it wasn't easy for him to stick to the brief and at times he found himself (and his camera-man) worryingly short of fuel or a place to stay. I think avoiding giving money to "The Man" is a sound philosophy for life, but certain aspects of Dave's journey I felt had been designed to make life difficult. It doesn't really contribute much to the story that he chose to do the drive in a clapped-out, 1970s Ford Torino. The best thing about the book is Dave Gorman's sometimes touchingly observed anecdotes about the ordinary people he met along the way, but because bits keep falling off the car, many of the people he met were car mechanics. Add to this Gorman's almost obsessive record keeping on the fuel consumption of the car and this book sometimes gets dangerously close to being a sort of mechanical memoir. I also became a bit annoyed (and I know this is wrong) by the amount of space devoted to camera woman Stef's bad back, but then, between the lines, I think you can see Dave Gorman's annoyance too, as her visits to the chiropractor gradually sabotage his journey. I've liked Dave Gorman since the days of "Are You Dave Gorman?" I would recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed his work before. It wasn't the Bill Bryson type travelogue that I was expecting, but I did enjoy it.
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