Mitch Phillips is twenty-six years old when he decides to head across the Atlantic for a sojourn in Western Europe. Travelling with a work buddy named Kevin, the pair stops off in Amsterdam, where they sample the local fare, before heading up into Scotland to pursue their true purpose of travelling overseas: harvesting Christmas trees in the dreary, wintry weather. At first, Mitchell is excited to get away from his roots, and to set off on what will ostensibly become a journey to discover himself. Like an artist searching for the proper medium, Mitchell seeks a creative outlet that will help him catalog his inner thoughts; he turns to photography and writing as his favored form of expression. But Mitchell will soon learn that he can’t so easily escape his problems, and that sometimes the fantasies we carry through life don’t match up with reality.
From Pittsburgh to Cadiz is the first part of author Mitchell Phillips McCrady’s European travelogue. McCrady draws inspiration from other nomadic non-fiction writers like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, while at the same time keeping his narrative locally and personally focused. The author has a particular gift for capturing regional linguistic tics, which serves to lift his memoir’s populace from the very page. McCrady’s authorial authenticity is then further strengthened by the many beautiful photographs he intersperses throughout the text; as a reader, it draws one almost involuntarily into the author’s personal headspace, creating an intimacy that is not easily achieved. From stirring start to startling conclusion, it is safe to say that this is only a snapshot of McCrady’s youthful memories, and we look forward to reading the next installment in this series.