- This piece was written over a year ago. It may no longer accurately reflect my views now, or may be factually outdated.
But is home the place you come back to when you’re full, or is it where you go to be filled up again?
Off the Map is exactly what I wanted from Evasion. Hell, it’s exactly what I wanted from On the Road, and The Yellow Handkerchief, and just about any other story I’ve ever experienced about travelling.
For one, it’s short. It clocks in at just 142 pages, I wanted more. Contrast this with its somewhat-bloated CrimethInc. stablemate Evasion where, after the umpteenth town the protagonist visits and repeats his same routine, fatigue well and truly set in. Unfortunately, there was still an awful lot of towns left to read. I mentioned in that earlier piece that the beautiful Part Four of On the Road—that trip to Mexico—made the somewhat meandering journey beforehand worth it. Off the Map is an entire book in the vein of that Part Four.
The girls, whose optimism and lack of smugness—I again recall Evasion—remains youthfully endearing throughout, are travelling from Western Europe to Prague over the course of an ill-defined amount of time, mapless and clockless. They visit crusty squats in France, stay in a Civil War outpost in Spain and stay with newfound friends in the idyllic small Belgian town of Liège, home of
the nicest [people] in the world.
My favourite section came early on though, when the girls go WWOOFing at an old-fashioned French farm in a summery, timeless haze. It left me keen to go back to Le Renouard and do the same. Evasion never once made me want to hang around middle-America suburbia dumpstering bagels and being a tool.