The narrator of Matthew Simmons’s A Jello Horse takes detours to odd roadside attractions. This aspect of the book reminded me of Tom Robbins’s Another Roadside Attraction. I’m in the middle of reading Ander Monson’s Vanishing Point and he, at one point, writes about roadside attractions:
Michael Carmichael, of Alexandria, Indiana, is the owner and keeper of the World’s Largest Ball of Paint. According to the website RoadsideAmerica.com, this is not to be confused with a paint ball, “which is a hollow shell filled with paint,” but a “ball of paint: a solid mass of thousands of hardened microscopically-thin layers, methodically applied atop each other.” As of 2205, it had almost 19,000 layers and weighs over 1,300 pounds. Carmichael is making a pavilion for it, to keep it safe from the weather, and as a point of pilgrimage for those who, like readers of RoadsideAmerica.com, go out of their way to visit weird and often over-sized (and hence mystical or at least puzzling) sites while touring through this country with its lot after lot, its quads, its hectares, its acres, of open space.
So what’s so attractive about roadside attractions anyway?
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.