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Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere
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Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  139 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In his unique, funny, and haunting reports from "Elsewhere," Hank Stuever records the odd and touching realities of modern life in everyday places. Elsewhere might be revealed in the tract-house adventures of a home-décor reality show, at a discount funeral home in a strip mall, or in the story of an armed man named Honey Bear in the hunt for his beloved but now missing sl ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Picador (first published July 1st 2004)
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May 23, 2007 Gail rated it really liked it
If you love Sedaris, you will love Hank Stuever. I appreciate him more, because he's a journalist, which means he's telling wickedly delicious satirical stories about real people. Not just embellishing them about himself (don't get me wrong, I heart Sedaris, but have agreed to disagree with his definition of "creative non-fiction.")

That being said, if you like off-beat stories and good story-telling, pick up Hank's book.. I read lots of news stories every day, and I don't know he does it, but Ha
Jan 12, 2008 Justin rated it really liked it
Hank Stuever is a writer for the Washington Post's Style section. He writes thoughtful, sometimes hauntingly beautiful essays about people, places and things we don't expect to read thoughtful, hauntingly beautiful essays about. Funeral homes set up in strip malls. Plastic chairs. A 30-year-old waterbed store nestled along some rundown highway. One of the pieces in here, about a ridiculously overblown yet totally arbitrary wedding in New Mexico, is one of the better nonfiction pieces I've ever r ...more
Dec 27, 2007 Joy rated it it was amazing
It's only fitting that I finally begin to fill my bookshelf with this book. It has made me a Hank Stuever lover. I'm a Hank freak, in fact. He's a journalist who makes writing seem way too easy. It's a great book for anyone, but especially for any journalist who wants to see how an expert does it, and does it well. He doesn't use flowery writing - no need for a high priestess in any of his stories. (inside joke.) He's definitely in my top 5 of journalists/writers. Now, I make a point of reading ...more
Oct 24, 2008 Jamie added it
Shelves: non-fic, on-hiatus
Flipped through a copy of this in a used bookstore, was struck by the way this guy uses a wild, loopy writing style to extract beautiful, poignant, funny moments from subjects that could easily be written off as kitsch.
Jun 03, 2008 Craven rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of journalism, American cultural studies
Stuever takes stuff that is the overlooked, everyday and mundane and turns it into poignant critiques of modern life and America. For instance who would of thought that essays on plastic deck chairs. Adult night at a lonely roller rink or the KOA campground would even be remotely interesting, let alone fascinating. His view on his subject matter is sympathetic, humane and warm, yet never sentimental.
He does an essay on the wedding of a boring, suburban couple, where he follows them around from
Jul 30, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I started this book a while back, but it was when my stacks were flying in, so I put it aside, not even knowing if I would finish it. It's just a book of various articles written by this guy around the US. Not really too high on my interest level. But then I read the same authors book about Christmas (see TINSEL review a few entries back, same guy) and I really liked it, so I made a point to read this book before it was due back. And I enjoyed it. Not as much as the Christmas book, but I do like ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Lara rated it liked it
This was one of the books I got from my trip to Powell's in Portland. It's a collection of essays on Americana. The standouts include: a trip to Wilmington to check in on his credit card issuer; a profile of a budget mortician; Gary Coleman's run for governor of California; and a short piece on the sofa fixer - the guy who takes apart sofas so you can squeeze them into your walk-up apartment. I'm a sucker for books like these - I've taken this book out of the library many times but never read th ...more
Mary Blye
Feb 01, 2015 Mary Blye rated it liked it
Some interesting essays, some I skipped. Average stuff
Jan 24, 2010 Nette rated it it was amazing
I loved his new book, "Tinsel," which is about Christmas in modern America; I loved this one even more. He writes smart, funny, dark essays about skating rinks, cheap funeral parlors, the evolution of the white molded plastic chair, waterbeds, and the differences between K-Mart, Walmart, and Target; he also writes about the Oklahoma City bombing and the space shuttle explosion, and there's a piece about September 11 that will rip your heart out. The articles are between eight and 12 years old, b ...more
Jun 10, 2010 heather rated it really liked it
Stuever's collection of essays from his days at the Washington Post is witty and provocative. Some essays seemed rooted in D.C. culture, which I enjoyed; I do see that could be difficult for people outside the D.C.-area to "get." Many of my colleagues use Stuever's books; I will most likely use a few of the essays in my re-designed intro course. Like many collection of essays and short stories, I recommend not reading the book from start to finish, but in parts, or individual essays in no partic ...more
David Allen
Jul 04, 2011 David Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Self-storage facilities, "kampgrounds" and roller rinks are a few of the places in the American Elsewhere where Stuever, a nationally known newspaper reporter, stops for another closely observed feature. He makes time for white plastic patio chairs, the creator of Josie and the Pussycats and the longtime stars of "Jesus Christ Superstar" too. In the collection's epic, he follows an ordinary couple through their wedding, pace by pace.
May 18, 2010 Justus rated it really liked it
Lovely essays on life outside of downtown. Its not condescending (but maybe its only because I'm in a similar demographic). He doesn't blindly celebrate suburban america, but he does draw out the stories and uniqueness of this modern landscape. A great collection of heartfelt essays.
This book is a collection of articles written by a journalist on everyday America and Americans, including a few significant events from the past few years. Some articles were more interesting than others, but overall, I found most of the articles pretty average.
Sep 12, 2008 Anthony rated it really liked it
I wanna be this guy. He gets to just hang out in the world (roller rinks, funeral homes, etc.) and write awesome sentences about what he sees and what he does. Some of these essays are a tad long and self-absorbed, but are mostly winners.
Rachael Kenney
Sep 02, 2010 Rachael Kenney rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book more than I expected and plan to pass it along to a few people. The stories were varied and engaging. I especially liked the chapters on KOA and funeral homes. Stuever makes me want to go be a journalist.
Apr 23, 2010 Jennie rated it really liked it
Good, but I expected it to be much better. I was looking for a book version of "This American Life" but I now know the original radio show is the only way to go.
Margaret McCamant
This is quite amusing, and would probably resonate better if I were the age of the author--he describes himself as "post-boomer"--instead of 20 years older.
Jan 23, 2008 Mo rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: would-be roadtrippers & those who find meaning in the mundane
makes you want to take a roadtrip to some dumpy american city, just cuz.
Jan 20, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I like some of the pieces in this. A little dated now.
Eric Oliver
Eric Oliver marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2016
Nathan Lamp
Nathan Lamp marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2016
Leigh Coop
Leigh Coop marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2016
Tyra marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2016
Meredith Krumenacker
Meredith Krumenacker rated it really liked it
Jun 24, 2016
Tom marked it as to-read
Apr 22, 2016
Shannon rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2016
Eileen Paskert
Eileen Paskert rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2016
Neliza Drew
Neliza Drew rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2016
Eileen Paskert
Eileen Paskert rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2016
Eagan marked it as to-read
Jan 30, 2016
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Hank Stuever was born in 1968 in Oklahoma City and grew up there, and left, and got into journalism. He has worked for newspapers in Albuquerque and Austin and, since 1999, has covered pop culture for The Washington Post's Style section. He is currently the paper's TV critic. OFF RAMP, a collection of his feature stories and essays, was published in 2004. His 2009 book, TINSEL, follows three subur ...more
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