Trucker of­fers wis­dom gath­ered over decades be­hind the wheel

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - THE PLANNER -

Mov­ing trucker Finn Murphy shares sto­ries from a life on the open road in “The Long Haul.”

Murphy is not your typ­i­cal trucker. As a mov­ing truck driver, often known as “bed­bug­gers” haul­ing “roach coaches,” he de­scribes the strict hi­er­ar­chy among truck­ers and how his type are shunned as out­siders. He also touts his mid­dle-class back­ground in sub­ur­ban Con­necti­cut and his nearly com­pleted ed­u­ca­tion at Colby Col­lege, a pres­ti­gious lib­eral arts school in Maine, to dis­tin­guish him­self from the “cow­boy truck­ers” who think of them­selves as liv­ing out some mod­ern fan­tasy of the Wild West. The au­thor even men­tions his nick­name “The Great White Mover,” which refers to his tal­ent and in­di­rectly to the in­dus­try’s widen­ing racial gap. In fact, Murphy de­cided to leave col­lege a year be­fore grad­u­at­ing (much to his par­ents’ dis­ap­proval) to work full-time in the mov­ing busi­ness fol­low­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence of the ca­ma­raderie of work­ing with a lo­cal com­pany as a teenager. Even­tu­ally, the au­thor worked his way up as a driver in the “high-end ex­ec­u­tive re­lo­ca­tion” busi­ness, where he rou­tinely makes cross-coun­try hauls for his high-pro­file clients. Through­out his rec­ol­lec­tions, Murphy main­tains an air of arm­chair philoso­pher, im­part­ing com­mon­sense wis­dom and morals from three decades be­hind the wheel. With care­fully re­told anec­dotes that il­lus­trate the minu­tiae of life as a trucker, Murphy sheds light on this unique sub­cul­ture. More than any­thing, he uses the nar­ra­tive to com­bat the neg­a­tive stigma against movers, tak­ing jabs at past cus­tomers who slighted him. Ul­ti­mately, the be­hind-thescenes ap­peal of Murphy’s sto­ries fades a bit after sev­eral chap­ters, but they shed light on a world not ex­pe­ri­enced by most.

“The Long Haul” is an en­ter­tain­ing and in­sight­ful snap­shot of the haul­ing life.

(Murphy will speak and sign copies of his book start­ing at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at BookPeo­ple. Free to at­tend; only books pur­chased at BookPeo­ple are el­i­gi­ble for sign­ing. In­for­ma­tion: bookpeo­ple.com.)

The ten­sion of keep­ing still

A dark, still fig­ure, wear­ing long black robes and a hood, ap­pears on the charm­ing The Austin Amer­i­can-States­man has teamed with Kirkus Re­views to bring you se­lect re­views from one of the most trusted and au­thor­i­ta­tive voices in book dis­cov­ery. For more re­views from Kirkus, visit kirkus­re­views.com. vil­lage green of Three Pines, a small Québec town; though at first it seems scary but harm­less, it turns out to be some­thing much more sin­is­ter in Louise Penny’s “Glass Houses.”

The strange fig­ure’s ap­pear­ance co­in­cides with a Hal­loween party at the lo­cal bistro, attended by the usual vil­lagers but also four out-oftown guests. They are friends from the Univer­sité de Mon­tréal who meet for a yearly re­union at the B&B in Three Pines. But this event ac­tu­ally happened months ago, and vil­lage res­i­dent Ar­mand Ga­mache, now head of the Sûreté du Québec, is re­count­ing the story from the wit­ness stand in a court­room suf­fer­ing from op­pres­sive sum­mer heat. Ga­mache’s tes­ti­mony be­comes nar­ra­tive, ex­plain­ing how over the course of a few days the masked man grew into a fix­ture on the vil­lage green and mor­phed slowly into an omen. Ga­mache’s son-in-law and second-in-com­mand, Jean-Guy Beau­voir, is asked to re­search the “dark thing’s” back story after one of the B&B guests, a jour­nal­ist, men­tions that the fig­ure re­minds him of story he did on an old Span­ish tra­di­tion, that of the “debt col­lec­tor.” It be­comes clear, as Ga­mache re­lays the events lead­ing up to mur­der, that “some­one in the vil­lage had done some­thing so hor­rific that a Con­science had been called.” But did the dark thing come for a vil­lager or for one of their guests? Con­science is an over­ar­ch­ing theme in Penny’s lat­est, seep­ing into the court­room nar­ra­tive as Ga­mache grap­ples with an en­emy much larger than the dark thing, a war he took on as the new Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent. His vic­tory de­pends on the out­come, and the path, of this mur­der trial. While cer­tain in­stall­ments in Penny’s best-sell­ing se­ries take Ga­mache and his team to the far reaches of Québec, oth­ers build their ten­sion not with a chase but in­stead in the act of keep­ing still — this is one such book. The ten­sion has never been greater, and Ga­mache has sat for months wait­ing, and wait­ing, to act, with Con­science

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watch­ing close by.

This is a metic­u­lously built mys­tery that fol­lows a care­ful as­cent to­ward a break­ing point that will leave you breath­less. It’s Three Pines as you have never seen it be­fore.

(Penny will speak and sign copies of her book start­ing at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at Cen­tral Pres­by­te­rian Church. Tick­ets are $33 and in­clude one copy of “Glass Houses.” In­for­ma­tion: bookpeo­ple.com.)

“The Long Haul” by Finn Murphy

“Glass Houses” by Louise Penny

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