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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on April 1st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 5

Central Coast local Robert Eringer revs up his upcoming road trip novel, 'Book Drive'

By CALEB WISEBLOOD

Amid our current reality—or any reality for that matter—there are few better ways to spend time cooped up at home than with a good read, and better yet, with the knowledge you’re supporting a local writer in the process. 


Book it
More info on Robert Eringer’s next novel, Book Drive, and his complete bibliography can be found on roberteringer.com. His books are available to purchase through Amazon and other outlets. Readers can also keep up with Eringer’s online blog at clubhouseonwheels.com.

DRIVE MY CAR
Since 2014, author and journalist Robert Eringer (pictured) has used his online blog, Clubhouse on Wheels, to chronicle his various cross-county road trips. One such road trip became the inspiration for his latest fiction novel, Book Drive.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT ERINGER

The published works of Santa Barbara-based novelist and journalist Robert Eringer range back to the 1980s. But 2014 marked a unique turn for Eringer—the year he started an online blog appropriately titled Clubhouse on Wheels, as he used the outlet to chronicle his various cross-county road trips from that point on. One such trip became the inspiration for his latest work of fiction, Book Drive.

“In the interest of not avoiding your question, this is a road novel,” Eringer replied, after I asked him what genre he would label Book Drive under.


BETWEEN THE LINES
The plot of Book Drive follows its protagonist, Christopher Lathom, on a week-long book tour, which takes him from his quiet home in Montecito up the West Coast to Seattle, Washington.
IMAGE COURTESY OF ROBERT ERINGER

“The protagonist of my novel is a novelist, and, as he puts it, ‘There’s no such thing as genre. It’s just a modern invention,’” he continued. “‘There’s good writing and bad writing; good storytelling and bad storytelling. Period.’”

Although the book’s protagonist, Christopher Lathom, shares the same profession as Eringer, the character is actually based on one of his peers in the writing field.

“Lathom is not based on me. His first novel, published 30 years ago, was considered a literary classic. That is definitely not me,” Eringer joked. “But who knows, maybe there’s still time.

“His character was indeed inspired by an author I know, though I prefer to keep his identity to myself,” Eringer added.

The plot of the novel follows Lathom on a “hellish” week-long book tour he reluctantly agrees to, pressed upon him by his publisher. The tour takes him from his quiet home in Montecito up the West Coast to Seattle, Washington.  


AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL?
“Lathom is not based on me. His first novel, published 30 years ago, was considered a literary classic. That is definitely not me,” Robert Eringer (pictured) said jokingly, when asked if Book Drive’s protagonist was based on himself.
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT ERINGER

Although the story itself is fictional, Eringer used intimate details from a real road trip he took to give the book as much nuance as possible. Eringer didn’t make the trek alone however, as he was joined by one of his good friends—the aforementioned anonymous writing peer—who inevitably became the basis for Lathom.

Eringer documented the trip in detail, recording most of it on his Clubhouse on Wheels blog, and arrived home with a plethora of story and setting inspiration to draw from. 

“By the time I get home, I have a journal packed with detail and a mind stimulated by new experiences,” he said. “Even random incidents become anecdotal to the plot—a verisimilitude that can never be accomplished by staying home and studying Google Maps.

“I get to weave genuine settings with a fabricated story—a marriage of journalism and fiction,” the local author added.

Eringer hopes the nuanced details will keep readers wholly invested in the story, as if they’re in the passenger seat, sitting right next to Lathom as he journeys up the coast. 

“The essence of a road trip—and my novel—is motion,” Eringer said. “Such motion needs to be conveyed to the reader as if he or she is present—sitting in a car, motioning along with the story’s characters, overhearing dialogue, enjoying the scenery, and witnessing every nuance.” 

Life is a highway and Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood wants to ride it all night long. Reach him at cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.










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