A Travel Journal by Mitchell Phillips McCrady
Chris Joseph Stancato
Pittsburgh to Cadiz: What’s the Difference Part One
The rite of travel is different for all those who step in a new direction. The traveler, wayfarer, vagabond, hobo, and gadabout take the terra incognita like a parched soul—quenching for drops of pastoral panoramas and clenching with fists of hell-raising ramblings through cities.
If you judge a traveler by the contents of his/her storytelling (candid and creatively in-tuned) and not his or her choice to vacate the law of work-work-work-till-you-drop conformity. Then you’ll appreciate McCrady’s table of contents that entailed his journey.
McCrady’s table of contents geographically set the stage from Pittsburgh to New York to Scotland. At the age of twenty-seven he takes an opportunity to change his social timeline. (A timeline dully noted with references to Cobain, Morrison, and Hendrix who died at the age for his next stage in life). The defining question: “Wanna go to Scotland and harvest Christmas Trees?” is pronounced several times rhetorically and metaphorically with McCrady’s response: “What? Fuck yeah! I got nothin’.” One-part storyteller, one-part personal essay, and two-parts travelogue allow this roman à clef narrative to give the reader access into a complete adventure.
In his documentation of events, written and photographed for his journal, McCrady vividly accounts what he is sensing: “Up on the beveled pane of glass, the window is a TV with the channel always tuned to the weather. Today’s forecast: rain, pain, and wind.” The meticulous style to explain the nature of his travel while nurturing the skill to record leads the reader to various subject matters: his testy friendship with Kevin, taking mushrooms (“mushies”), battling depression, occupational hazards of grinding and grunting in the forest to cut and collect trees like animals stocking up for the winter, the music of phonetically diagrammed dialogue from Pittsburghese and England and the similarities between McCrady and his fellow English workers as portrayed in the chapter titled, The Monkees.
Mitchell Phillips McCrady was deliberate in his effort to retell a period about his social timeline. He was deliberate in his storytelling to express the emotions and actions of a twenty-seven-year-old traveler in Europe. You will not find a fictionalized glossy tale of a backpacker’s account on the back of picturesque postcards. McCrady’s story is better than a summary of landmarks.
Pittsburgh to Cadiz: What’s the Difference? Part One is a travel essay with clear navigation from leaving complacency to complicated situations (satire and serious alike). McCrady informs us from the beginning with a quote that seems practical yet is poignantly on point for his book: “Life can be different, but it takes courage.”
Pittsburgh to Cadiz: What’s the Difference? Part One is a 2018 Red City Review Book Awards Grand Prize Winner.
Published by Kind Lines Publishing (Hemp Publishing) 2017: www.Kind-Lines.com