I opened up my small mailbox (just barely big enough to fit one book, ok, maybe two) the other day and inside was this short, short autobiography by a short, short man. The good people over at Virginia Avenue Press had decided to send me their newest title to review, and review it I will.
I’m going to admit, I never would have bought this book had I seen it in a store (or more likely, online). “Not another On the Road! Not another Into the Wild!” I would have exclaimed, rolling my eyes and passing it by. How could I have known that not only was it nothing like those books, but that I would actually enjoy it more than both those highly regarded novels.
The Short, Short Hitchhiker is an unbelievably funny and interesting autobiography by a man, now sadly deceased, named Stanley Gurcze. At an all too brief 136 pages Stanley weaves his many stories of hitchhiking across the United States (mostly through Nevada, Arizona, and Texas) and how he came to be a homeless roamer.
This is the exact opposite of a “woe is me” story, although much woe can be felt from the loss of his legs below the knee when he was young. Aside from that, Stanley is an insightful, amusing storyteller and this book entertains far more than saddens. He describes his travels and interactions with some of the people who pick him up from cops to swindlers to the governor of Nevada. I found myself laughing out loud in amazement at some of the things Stanley wrote about, and was disappointed when the book ended.
This is a little gem of a book written by someone who simply wanted to tell stories, his stories. It’s rare to find a manuscript written purely for the sake of storytelling, without the driving desire to be rich or famous or respected through being a published author. I wish more books had the raw honesty of this memoir, and I highly suggest you all give it a read.
How this book came to be published is almost as good of a story as the book itself. Stanley sent his manuscript to an editor who once gave him a ride, Richard Menzies, who eventually got it published by Nevada publisher Virginia Avenue Press. For more about Menzies and excerpts of the book read aloud, watch here: