Like so many of Woolf’s odysseys into the heart of America’s subcultures, Wall to Wall traces a modern Ulysses in reverse: from a West Coast asylum where he works as an attendant to a Boston asylum where he visits his mother, Claude Squires views roadside America from its weak side—the tough underbelly of the Southwest, Tucson, the Rio Grande, Nogales, The Border—before thrusting himself into Okie’s sacred shrine, Oklahoma City, and into the staid Eastern Corridor that ends in Boston.
Claude’s vehicle is a ’59 Thunderhead, a “female beast,” which his father, a used-car dealer in L.A., has commissioned him to deliver to Oklahoma City. And like all of Woolf’s cars, the Thunderhead is a “she,” a domineering companion in Claude’s cross-country picaresque “flight of passage.”
In Wall to Wall Woolf’s view is evocative and is very much his own. First published by Grove Press in 1962, Wall to Wall has been an underground classic for over thirty-five years, a comic and satiric masterpiece.