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The road trip is a staple of modern American literature. But nowhere in American literature, until now, has a left-wing economist hit the road, observing and interpreting the extraordinary range and spectacle of U.S. life, bringing out its conflicts and contradictions with humor and insight.
Disillusioned with academic life after thirty-two years teaching economics, Michael D. Yates took early retirement in 2001, with a pension account that had doubled during the dot.com frenzy of the late 1990s. He and his wife Karen sold their house, got rid of their belongings, and have moved around the country since then, often spending months at a time on the road. Michael and Karen spent the summer of 2001 in Yellowstone National Park, where Michael worked as a hotel front-desk clerk. They moved to Manhattan for a year, where he worked for Monthly Review. From there they went to Portland, Oregon, to explore the Pacific Northwest. After five months of travel in Summer and Fall 2004, they settled in Miami Beach. Ahead of the 2005 hurricane season, they went back on the road, settling this time in Colorado.
Cheap Motels and a Hotplate is both an account of their adventures and a penetrating examination of work and inequality, race and class, alienation and environmental degradation in the small towns and big cities of the contemporary United States.