Going Native (thing)
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Written by Stephen Wright in 1994. Ostensibly about Wylie Jones (see the blurb below), this book reads like a collection of short stories with Wylie (or just his car) making an appearance at the end of the chapter to link them. Each chapter focuses on some aspect of contemporary American Life, eg the suburbs, Crackheads, Hitch-hikers, Porn Stars, Hollywood, and failed attempts to "Go Native" with primitive Indonesian headhunters.
Wylie Jones had it all. The perfect wife. The two kids. The comfortable home in the suburbs. His American dream.
Then, one late-summer night, in the midst of a backyard barbecue with friends, he steps out the front door of his house into another life. Stealing a neighbor's car, a battered Ford Galaxie 500, Wylie embarks on a terrifying odyssey across the heart of media-haunted America.
Out on the road, he easily assumes the identity of Tom Hanna, a friend he has left behind in Chicago, and it is in this borrowed guise and "hot" emerald-green car that Wylie will become known to those he meets on his heady joyride to the Californian coast.
By Journey's end, Wylie Jones (if that ever was his real name) has found a new identity (Will Johnson), a new wife, and a new home, but certainly no peace. It soon becomes evident that the final act of this story will be played out on the evening news to the baffled chorus of family and friends: "He was such a quiet guy... the sweetest man imaginable ... who would have ever suspected?"
One man's dream. Everybody else's nightmare
By turns scathing and hilarious, outrageous and on target, Going Native is the most powerful indictment of the heart of the darkness at the center of contemporary American life since Norman Mailer's An American Dream