Wednesday, February 3, 2016



Motional Blur appealingly evokes comparison with the "Gonzo" journalism of Hunter S. Thompson and the travel writing of William Least Heat Moon.

The novellete's thirty-nine year old protagonist, Luke Andersen, is a ne'er do well who lives at the margins of life in Southern California, a part time cab driver who supplements his meager income by hosting twice weekly karaoke nights at a local bar.  Such meaning as can be found in his life derives from his other addiction, drugs and alcohol.

Fired from his karaoke gig, Luke is next threatened with firing by the cab company if he doesn't accept the assignment of driving a mysterious passenger to Las Vegas.  Reluctantly, Luke complies and next morning picks up the singular passenger named Charles Gearhart.

Las Vegas proves just to be the first stop, as Gearhart's real goal is the Big Sky Country of Montana.  Thus Luke is drawn, grudgingly at first, into a two-man odyssey through the Mountain West encountering a mix of beauty and squalor.

Here, Eringer's gift for word portraits and telling detail shines brightly.  The varied people and places encountered allow the narrative to turn skillfully to extended social and political commentary.

At the outset, Luke is not a very sympathetic character, but as the journey unfolds he changes and grows, a process sensitively and persuasively described.  As he learns more about Gearhart he learns even more about himself.  His attitude toward his enigmatic passenger goes from puzzled resentment to a growing admiration and gratitude.

As the journey nears its end descending through beautifully described coastal Oregon and California, the book delivers its surprising, deeply moving, and very satisfying resolution.

Motional Blur succeeds on many levels and Robert Eringer continues to evolve as a different but always interesting writer.

Readers will unfailingly enjoy the pleasure of his company.

William Moloney's columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Rocky Mountain News, and the Denver Post.

During the 1970s, Dr. Moloney was Upper School Director of the American School in London (and one of my favorite teachers), eventually becoming the State of Colorado's Secretary of Education.