When the electricity inexplicably goes out nationwide, the mundanities of life gradually shift to the rigours of survival. In this post-apocalyptic setting, an unnamed mechanic jumps into his beat-up car and drives east, journeying 4,736 kilometres to reach his dying father.
As the narrator's journey becomes one of essentials – gasoline, water bottles, and gas-station food – and as the crisis engulfing his surroundings begins to weigh on him ever more, he seeks refuge in a woman, and later, with a fellow traveler he meets on the road. These two kindred souls join him on his path, though they seem to seek a different sort of redemption.
As the road grows longer, and the narrator's exhaustion grows in kind, parallels are drawn between his own journey through this labyrinth and Theseus's journey through the primeval Labyrinth. However, the beast that our narrator seeks to slay might not be one of flesh and horn and blood, but instead of his own failing mental state, of his thirst for this apocalypse around him. In the end, the obsession with which he pursues this beast – which he will ultimately find – will be his undoing.
Running on Fumes is a road novel that carries with it influences of the genre, with their storylines of redemption through distance travelled, often in a failing world that reflects the protagonist's interior. The line that delineates whether the world is reflecting the narrator's state or whether the narrator's mindset is reflected by the world is hazy, and there remains a level of uncertainty on the truths the narrator speaks.
by Christian Guay-Poliquin
by Rachel Poliquin
by Upton Sinclair
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by Edith Wharton
by Jane Austen
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by L.M. Montgomery
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