USA Midwest, Lee Child—Jack Reacher

USA Midwest, Lee Child—Jack Reacher

The Heartland

I cannot say anything about Lee Child´s writing. He is one of the (many great) modern writers. But I can tell you about my own feelings when I read his novels, his thrillers.

The thing is that I relate easily to Jack Reacher, Child´s main character. For me he is the perfect “tourist.” He travels and takes in impressions as they come along. That is the way I love to travel, eager to see something new.

Lee Child is the perfect “tourist.” A tourist is a person of immense curiosity. Child was born in England, but most of his stories take place in the USA. As a perfect “tourist” he looks in awe at new vistas with the eyes of a child. Although he places sinister happenings in the towns and cities he visits, Child must have been happy getting to know those places or he could not spend so much time describing them in detail. He works like a painter in front of a canvas.

Reacher hitchhikes or takes Greyhound buses. It is not a very sophisticated way to travel, some might think, but it is relaxed.  I have traveled from Colorado to New Mexico and from Pittsburgh to New York with Greyhound, but I have never hitchhiked.  It is not so dangerous for a man, especially if he is more than six feet and weighs over 200 pounds like Jack Reacher.

Somewhere Child calls Jack Reacher a “drifter”.  I do not think I am a drifter. For several years I drove along the Atlantic Coast just to be able to breathe. I drove along the Atlantic Coast from Key West to the Canadian border. But I had a goal. I drove in the direction away from where the “early trees” were not blooming. I was avoiding pollen that I feared would finally make it impossible for me to breathe.  My health was poor with allergies and asthma haunting my frightened soul. But I was lucky. I could get away from the allergens. I took my car and drove away from them.  Maybe I was a drifter then for a while.  Just like Reacher.

There are no colors really in Child´s novels. They are grey.  There are shadows and mist and gloom, night, but also sun.  When I read about Child´s sun I add yellow and orange, but that is not his intent I believe. There is brightness and there is dawn.  A modern grey novel. I mean that for me it seems that the New World is black or grey.

In Die Trying he has the following color: peach color. The lady who we hope would stay with Reacher forever has a peach-colored expensive Italian suit. She has a high post in Washington and spends lots of money on clothing. There are glimpses of a blue sky occasionally, but not many times through the book.  And there is the green truck with a ton of dynamite on a desolate road in the sparely populated mountains out west.

How can I, a colorist and artist find myself so at home in Lee Child´s novels that are grey, more or less?  Lee Child gives the answer himself when he describes as genius being in the details. I like genius.  And Child´s novels are built up with details that draw the reader into the action. The reader is part of the story.

I believe I can relate to Lee Child´s Reacher the most when he travels across the Midwest of the USA, living very simply, taking a room at a small town´s only hotel. And that hotel room is in no way fancy—just the way I did when fighting for my own health.  But I think that what echoes in me when I follow Jack Reacher is the farmland in the US Midwest and the emptiness in the large landscapes. Those wide scenes place me back to my childhood and summers that I spent in the Swedish countryside at different homes and farms, belonging to family. To get to them the Ford we travelled in passed wide fields and through large forests. Only now and then I saw a farmhouse, just the way Jack Reacher sees farmhouses on the Plaines. Although I was only a child, and although there lingers in me memories of a sunlit orange countryside, I today pick up a feeling of loneliness and melancholy that is a residue of impressions from my childhood summers. Odd enough it feels good for me, although Child describes landscapes in murky weather. It touches a nerve in me.

Jack Reacher crisscrosses the US, describes the sites he visits in detail, and lets us follow him, which I happily do. Over the last 60 years, I have visited 43 US states and lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, and Florida. I have spent so much time in Manhattan, so I canalmostsay I have lived there and the same with California. I love to follow Jack Reacher to US states I feel I know so well.

Reading one of Child´s thriller novels, I sort of took a helicopter trip—together with Jack Reacher— to Chicago and Washington D.C. and spent some time in both cities, cheerfully going back in my memory to wonderful days in both cities over fifty years. Reading Child´s novel was a tourist trip to the Midwest (and D.C.).

I do not read the fighting scenes. Sometimes I skip to the last page of such a scene to see who survives and then I go back and hastily read a few words in paragraph after paragraph to see what happened. The martial arts scenes must be great in the movies, but I read Child for his description of places.

I like the modern world. We are so lucky. We can try on innumerable Personae through our lifetime. As children we copy the grown-ups like children always have done, but as adults there is no limit to people or situations we can copy and learn from. It is as if we are trying on shirts, pants, jackets in the dressing room of a clothing store. When we stand in the irritatingly long checkout line in the grocery store we enter famous peoples’ lives for split seconds and take on and live their lives  subconsciously, approving or disliking their behavior. Those moments are travels into different worlds. So are of course all the movies and books that open places where we can experience other lives in our minds for a short spell.

This is what the modern world has done for “everyman” during the last hundred years or so and I am one who is enormously grateful.

And I can take on different personae when traveling. I can be a tourist, with eyes open in awe over new unexpected aspects of life or I can be a traveler, intent on a goal, a study of something or a business appointment.

Now I am starting to read one more Lee Child book, Tripwire.  Jack Reacher is in wonderful Key West. That will be another vacation trip for me as a tourist.

Have a great day



Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. A hidden Gem.


And a hidden gem.

To my mind, Acoma is an exotic and a magical place.

I visited Acoma about fifteen years ago when I stayed for a while in Albuquerque. Acoma is 65 miles straight west of the city, about 100 km.

You arrive at a tourist center and a shuttle will take you up onto the flat top of the Mesa where Indians live and work. They are well-known for their fine pottery. You may follow a guided tour and learn about the Pueblo people´s culture. The place is still very authentic American Indian.

If you are interested in the history in the Native Americans there is much written on the Internet.  There is quite a lot about Acoma and the Mesa in New Mexico.

A visit to Acoma is a very unusual experience and pleasant. And for most people anyway an unexpected meeting with a very different culture.

I have a small collection of Native American  pottery, that I have bought in Arizona, New Mexico and at the Brass Amadillo Antique Mall  (well worth a visit!) in Wheat Ridge by Denver,Colorado. Also at an auction in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Have a great day



Disney World—Celebration



For me Disney World in Orlando is an eighth wonder.

Out of the swampland of the Reedy Creek, large as the whole of San Francisco, Walt Disney (1901-1966) and his companies started buying up around 1965 and made plans to carve out what I would call a horizontal sculpture with man-made lakes and canals and proper land.  That is more than 50 years ago.

Walt Disney did not live to see the Magic Kingdom when it opened on October 1st, 1971, and he did not live to see EPCOT which opened on October 1, 1982 which he had also been planning. That is all very sad.

By the way, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, opened in 1955.

What is not well-known is that Walt Disney planned a town in the style of early 20th-century architectural, Celebration, a couple of miles from the Disney All-Stars Movie Resort, just on the other side of Interstate 4, the overly busy I-4. Three lakes are carved out of the swampland, connected by boardwalks through the subtropical forest. The walkway around the first lake is almost one mile, a little more than one kilometer. The first two lakes have one Great Blue Heron each, watching over his—or her— territory. It is of course a delightfully beautiful bird to watch.


A view of “downtown” Celebration. The small “downtown” has one road along the quay and one short street with boutiques, and a dozen restaurants— and one Starbucks.  Most of the restaurants have tables on the sidewalk, so people can bring their dogs.


If I didn´t live in Orlando I would check into the Bohemian, the hotel in “downtown” Celebration.  One thing I love very much about that hotel is that it has a Gallery in the corridors for paintings, paintings with Florida motives like beautiful trees with Spanish moss that look so romantic. Makes me think of the movies Gone with the Wind, or Fried Green Tomatoes, or Forest Gump. Very Southern States.


There are just enough people on the walkway around the lake to nod to, and even stop and talk to for a minute. There are people from all around the world in friendly conversation with people they never met before and probably never will see again outside this friendly moment in Celebration. Celebration is a Monument of Friendliness.


A photo of my dog who would like to chase the Big Blue Heron.

This is what my dog, Sen-Li, saw.


Very pretty indeed.




Yesterday, Saturday, March 4, 2017, I and my dog started walking around the first lake and I was thinking that I would be disappointed if I did not see the heron.  And there it was, sitting still on the barrier, built to shield the small dam where water runs down to the swampland behind.

Such a nice evening walk.



This flower that grows in Celebration is called Bird of Paradise and reminds me of the Herons.





Las Vegas and Hoover Dam, United States

I find it odd myself that I love Las Vegas so much. I am a little bit of a gambler, but not much, and I have placed a bet in a casino in Las Vegas. What I love about Las Vegas—the DAYTIME LAS VEGAS mind you—is the feeling of HOPE that pervades that city during daytime, before reality, harsh or sweet and pleasant, sets in.  I am an artist and I cannot help it; feelings are what run my life.

Although, if you are a true Tourist, please do not miss an unforgettable visit to Hoover Dam. Ask the reception at your hotel. They can tell you about charter buses going there. Or you can drive.

I just watch an episode of The Rockford Files and James Garner and a villain ran down all those stairs.  You do not have to walk down to the Colorado River.  There is an elevator.  Do take the boat trip. You will thank me for telling you about it.