Shopping Cart

Breakfast at the Exit Café

Travels Through America

Regular price $19.95 CAD
  • ISBN: 9781553658269
  • Tags: Merilyn Simonds, Travel & Adventure, Wayne Grady,
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Published On: 07/11/2011
  • 256 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781553656562
  • Tags: Merilyn Simonds, Travel & Adventure, Wayne Grady,
  • Published On: 9/25/2010
  • 328 Pages

Part travelogue, part exploration-a road trip into the reality behind the cultural myth that is America.

Breakfast at the Exit Cafe begins as a personal story-told in alternating voices by two travellers and writers-of a journey by car from British Columbia around the rim of the United States. It soon becomes a journey of exploration. For Grady, whose forebears were slaves who came to Canada in the 1880s, this is a journey through fear, racism, and violence into his own family roots. For Simonds, who grew up a lonely Canadian in the American School of Campinas, Brazil, it is a journey into the heart of the ex-pat promised land, the nation of the American Dream.

As Grady and Simonds travel back through American history, they encounter the splendours of the Mojave Desert, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, and the bayous of Louisiana and the Outer Banks, and they experience the impact of geography on culture and of culture on the landscape. Although they are observing America from the outside, they also strangely feel at home. The Americans they meet illuminate a country dissolving in the grip of the Bush administration's final years and inspire them to reassess their-and our-assumptions about that powerful and complex country. Also available in hardcover.

Wayne Grady is one of Canada's finest science writers and a Governor General's Award-winning translator. He has authored eleven books of nonfiction, translated fourteen novels, and edited more than a dozen anthologies of short stories and creative nonfiction.

Merilyn Simonds is the author of fourteen books, including the novel The Holding, named a New York Times Editor's Choice, as well as the acclaimed works of literary nonfiction The Lion in the Room Next Door and The Convict Lover, a finalist for the Governor General's Award. She and Wayne Grady live on a small acreage north of Kingston, Ontario.


"Grady & Simonds take turns, each penning half of the short sections in each of the book's 14 chapters. It's an attractive choice. As they barrel along interstates and winding highways, Grady's smouldering distrust and apparent dislike of the U.S. is literally shoulder-to-shoulder with Simonds's quizzicality and eye for offbeat detail." -Ottawa Citizen

"Grady and Simonds . . . hand the pen back and forth throughout their journey, each taking a few pages to comment on the passing scene before turning it over again to the other . . . This unusual structure works surprisingly well. There's no doubt we are travelling with writers . . . What a complex, fascinating read America continues to be." -Literary Review of Canada

"Simonds writes with an eye for lyrical details, using them as jumping-off points for imaginative ruminations, while Grady's sections are peppered with facts and trivia . . . By the end of the book, the story of two travellers has become a journey of another sort: the story of a marriage. And this second journey itself is analogous to relations between the U.S. and Canada. The question in both cases is: How can two very different nations share resources, come to understand one another, and ultimately learn to get along on the road they both share?" -Quill & Quire

"At core, the book presents a series of slices of Americana, as considered and portrayed through Canuck eyes . . . .This is a travel book that travels well." -Winnipeg Free Press

"In Breakfast at the Exit Cafe, Grady and Simonds manage to redeem Americans . . . In so doing, they also manage to define Canadian identity as something more than just anti-Americanism. Which, in the end, redeems us too." -Globe & Mail

"Whether it's the sign of a symbiotic marriage or of seasoned writers crafting a seamless travel collage, the narrative in this road trip through America flows as easily as a new car on an empty highway." -Globe & Mail

"Grady and Simonds, one of Canada's most popular and successful literary couples, travel by car from British Columbia around the southern rim of the United States, with no special agenda or itinerary in mind, but find themselves on a journey of discovery, historical and personal." -Globe & Mail

"The authors have done their historical homework about the U.S., and provide an interesting guide for the ambivalent first-time traveler." -Publishers Weekly