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Off the Road: An American Sketchbook

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The cross-country road trip has become a cliche — an obligatory rite of passage to which even Beavis and Butt-head must tediously submit. Enter the sweet, meandering counter-voice of 25-year-old Cooper in this, his second book of sketches and observations (his first depicted A Year in New York in similar form). Alone on his odyssey, he halts with pad and watercolors at traditional pit stops (Vegas, baby!) and why-not places like Intercourse, Pa., recording small bits of Americana: bingo in Moss Point, Miss., a nudist spa in Middletown, Calif., and an awful lot of cows along the way. It’s almost too precious, but Cooper has an unswerving eye and a happy knack for eavesdropping. Off the Road: An American Sketchbook is a slight but smart take on the non-MTV real world.