TOO FAR GONE

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Todd Blubaugh, Gingko Press Hard­cover $35 (248pp), 978-1-58423-621-4

The first pic­ture in­side Todd Blubaugh’s gor­geous pho­to­graphic mem­oir, Too Far Gone, is a point-ofview shot over the han­dle­bars of his mo­tor­cy­cle--the desert land­scape tilt­ing with per­spec­tive, the road blurred by speed. The pic­ture sets the tone for what is a starkly beau­ti­ful cof­fee-ta­ble book.

Blubaugh grew up in Kansas, in love with art and mo­tor­cy­cles. He got his first mo­tor­cy­cle when he was twelve, fi­nanc­ing the pur­chase by mow­ing lawns cut­ting fire­wood. As an adult, he ended up on the West Coast work­ing in the arts, specif­i­cally pho­tog­ra­phy. Too Far Gone is his per­sonal ac­count of a cross-coun­try jour­ney taken on his hand-built mo­tor­bike, The Red Head, af­ter his par­ents’ sud­den death. The open road be­comes a source of artis­tic in­spi­ra­tion, psy­cho­log­i­cal free­dom, and spiritual heal­ing.

Blubaugh’s lens grav­i­tates not only to­ward land­scapes and ci­tyscapes but peo­ple. The char­ac­ters of Amer­i­can mo­tor­cy­cle cul­ture are cap­tured in smil­ing por­traits, nude por­traits, and in un­scripted mo­ments of af­fec­tion and ten­der­ness. The plein-air aes­thetic of the book demon­strates a nat­u­ral tal­ent for com­po­si­tion as well as an in­tu­itive un­der­stand­ing of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment.

In­ter­posed be­tween pho­tographs are let­ters and vi­gnettes. The as­sorted texts ac­cen­tu­ate the vis­ual nar­ra­tive with gen­uine in­sights. The best en­tries are lyri­cal in style and philo­sophic in scope. “The truth is, the risk makes bikes worth rid­ing,” Blubaugh writes af­ter a ter­ri­fy­ing ride through a storm. “The borders of our mor­tal­ity have al­ways been an al­lur­ing road to mankind, and we have yet to build a bet­ter ve­hi­cle to ex­plore them.”

Too Far Gone un­folds with haunt­ing beauty. It ex­tends one man’s jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery across fa­mil­iar and alien land­scapes, find­ing rare hu­man mo­ments along the way. The book is also a sig­nif­i­cant record of con­tem­po­rary mo­tor­cy­cle life in Amer­ica. In ex­plor­ing the dy­namic in­ter­sec­tion of art and travel, it adds a host of fresh per­spec­tives to the revered mythol­ogy of the open road.

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