The Bear Went Over The Mountain: Finding America, Finding Myself by Carll Tucker (Mary Ann Liebert) US$19.99 The premise is peculiar. After hitting 50, New York state author and publisher Carll Tucker takes to the American road - alone in a campervan - for nine months. His mission: to locate the graves of every American president and vice-president and find himself along the way. His choice of trip seems random. It might make more sense if the former Village Voice theatre critic were involved in politics. That said, he has the grace to admit his ambivalence on the opening page. 'My private motive is ... who knows, as mixed as dirt,' he writes. Sustaining this candour, he confesses he is counting on novelty to pre-empt despair and he superbly defines the white-picket-fence limits of his world. 'I have lived here all my life. I learned to play tennis at 'the club' where 'whites only' is the rule, both on the courts and the admissions committee. I have served my neighbours as editor and publisher of the local newspaper for 19 years, trustee of various charities, chairman of the hospital and cracker barrel pundit in my weekly column. We live in a nice house with a big field. Our three children grew up here. Our youngest is old enough to die in the army if not to order beer at a bar.' Tucker's road trip transports the reader all over the place. The Yale graduate's itinerary takes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and beyond, encompassing 48 states. In the end, the book feels like an excuse for Tucker to chart the path of a mid-life crisis, profile America and display his formidable writing talent. Readers who hitch a ride in the campervan may feel the self-styled 'small somebody' with the strangely spelled first name should be free to ramble as much as he wants.