Motor Maids across the Continent, by Ron Padgett
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When the spinster Miss Helen Campbell sets off in a motorcar called “The Comet” with four high school girls, their cross-country car ride promises to fulfill their singular dreams of grand vistas.
Unprepared for the ensuing plane crash, stolen car, a trip to The Singing Ranch, and encounters with cryptic individuals, a painting by Henri Rousseau, a train robber on the lam, an Italian village located in California, a talking door, and with the assistance of cowboys, Blaise Cendrars, Indians, and mountain outlaws who turn into statues, the redoubtable Motor Maids are compelled to dream even larger.
More than fifty years in the making, Ron Padgett’s novella, Motor Maids across the Continent, is an altered version of a novel for adolescent girls originally published in 1911. A mix of Harold Lloyd, Tom Mix, and Max Ernst, Padgett's tale is by turns comic, visionary, and strangely touching.
Ron Padgett grew up in Tulsa and has lived mostly in New York City since 1960. Among his many honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters poetry award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Padgett’s How Long was Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry and his Collected Poems won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Los Angeles Times prize for the best poetry book of 2013. In addition to being a poet, he is the translator of Guillaume Apollinaire, Pierre Reverdy, and Blaise Cendrars. His poems appear in Jim Jarmusch's new film Paterson.