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Road Reads

Sunday, January 30, 2005; Page P02

BOOK: "Semi True," by Russell Ringsak (Globe Pequot, $19.95)

TARGET AUDIENCE: Car drivers who wonder what those guys way up there in the truck cabs are thinking.

QUICK TAKE: You may recognize Ringsak's name from the closing credits of "A Prairie Home Companion." He writes for the show and drives its semitrailer truck when PHC goes on the road. He slogs cross-country in rigs of various makes and conditions, including the kind that "refugees use to flee Third World countries during a takeover." A collector of bar stories, odd facts and truck- stop cafe boasts, he lays down sardonic, yet romantic prose.

"I drive alone but it doesn't make me lonely," Ringsak says. Apparently it gives him time to formulate observations on highway life, such as why we all should be thankful for interstates, because they draw the land's ugliness toward themselves, leaving other roads scenic and bucolic. As the title indicates, some of his stories are true, but many aren't. Either way, though, they are well worth a listen.

RANT: Ringsak tends to empty his entire factual inventory into the book, and some of it begs for punch lines that never come.

RAVE: His distillation of life aboard trucks: "They sound good when they start up and they sound even better when you shut 'em down."

-- Jerry V. Haines

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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