In this collection of stories about reporting from out on the road, Charles Kuralt endears himself not as a television superstar but as an ordinary guy doing his job, much like the people he has reported on.
He travels in a van insulated imperfectly from the cold with bits of carpeting, old underwear and the like. He confesses that he doesn't have The Right Stuff to cover The Really Big Stories.And while he's known for his riveting human interest stories on America's byways, his book tells about the Ohio parakeet that quit saying, "And that's the way it is" when Kuralt's camera was turned on, and the time his crew's filming inadvertently started a cattle stampede in west Texas.
Kuralt also notes that after he broadcast the tale of what he thought was a remarkable swimming pig, he got letters from farmers that essentially said, "You idiot, any pig can swim."
But the successes are here too, as when curiosity about a farmhouse banner led to a highly popular story about waiting for soldiers to return from Vietnam.
"A Life on the Road" could have used an index to help readers find favorite anecdotes. And one might wish for more explanation about how Kuralt heard about his out-of-the-way people and places and how he decided which tips to pursue.
But still, when Kuralt talks about the night he spent on an Alaska glacier with a secluded priest, or the machinations of federal bureaucracy over a 92-year-old brick-maker from North Carolina, you have to be glad he took you along for the ride. - By Malcolm Ritter (AP)