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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

May 09, 1993|KAREN STABINER

ROAD SCHOLAR by Andrei Codrescu, photographs by David Graham ( Hyperion: $19.95; 193 pp. ). National Public Radio commentator and poet Codrescu came to the United States from Romania when he was 19, in 1966, believing, among other things, that dogs in America carry pretzels on their tails (that, from his grandmother). He was quickly disabused of most of his preconceived ideas, but was not fully Americanized until 1990, when television producer Roger Weisberg asked him the question that would change his life: Would you like to drive? More to the point, would Codrescu like to learn and then drive across the country, recording his observations on film and, as it turns out, in print. The author was quite comfortable in his role as eternal passenger, but the proposal was irresistible. He enrolled at the Safe Driving School in New Orleans, bought himself a 1968 Cadillac and set off on his adventure. Codrescu is the print equivalent of character actors who like to chew up the scenery just a bit, to get themselves noticed, but he has found some tasty morsels: everything from fellow poets to his gun instructor in Las Vegas.

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