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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2008 10:00 pm

Title: "Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small-Town America"

Author: Bill Geist

Publisher: Broadway Books

Price: $29.95

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Synopsis: Bill Geist, roving correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, has compiled a collection of stories from his 56,000-mile RV trip across the United States. These are hilarious stories of small town America. The towns vary in size from 1 (Monowi, Neb.) to 44,405 (Wilson, N.C.), with one trip to a big city of 154,762 (Chattanooga, Tenn.).

The stories are about decidedly eccentric folks doing decidedly eccentric things. Rachel, Nev., is often referred to as the "UFO Capital." Pat and Joe Travis own a bar and grill that caters to UFOs, their crews, as well as earthlings, serving cold beer and alien burgers. Wilson, N.C., passed a law banning old, tacky indoor furniture from use on outdoor porches. They want to beautify the city. So an Inspector patrols the city looking for violators. Bithlo, Flo., sports a school bus race at its Orlando Speed World. It is a demolition derby with school buses racing at 60 mph. And so it goes. These are all small towns with guts and panache, living the American dream.

Author's strengths: Bill Geist has a very dry sense of humor and a deadpan style. You will laugh out loud all the way through it.

Who would this book appeal to? Anyone who lives in small town America will appreciate it. Every small town, including Lodi, has its eccentricities.

Why did you choose this book? I needed a good laugh and this one seemed like a good choice. And, I was right.

Memorable line: "My beat is finding seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things: A photographer who specializes exclusively in portraits of cows; a chef whose specialty is roadkill; a town too small for a traditional parade solves the problem by having the watchers walk around the standstill marchers. These people, places, and events are news to me."

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