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Dan Jackson

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Old Bug
by Dan Jackson   

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Publisher:  End Run Press ISBN-10:  0979446309


Copyright:  May 2007 ISBN-13:  9780979446306

The spiritual quest of a skeptical guy on a road trip across America with a long lost friend in a beat-up Beetle. A spiritual journey for people who avoid religion, but still have to deal with life.

Barnes &
End Run Press
Independent Publishers Group
End Run Press

Old Bug is the true story of a cross-country road trip that begins with a mysterious e-mail from an old friend the author has hardly spoken to since high school, inviting him on a drive from Oregon to New Jersey. Intrigued by what such a self-declared spiritual journey might hold for a chronic skeptic like himself, he accepts. Having abandoned traditional religion long ago, he decides to use the trip to reflect upon what he does believe—not just about God, but about morality, mortality, meaning—the whole so-called spiritual side of life.

Only after signing on does he find out that his friend’s car is a stripped down, 32-year-old Beetle—and that his underlying reason for making this trip is to reunite with a family he’s been avoiding all his adult life. Their conversations, and conflicting ways of dealing with both life in general and the setbacks they encounter on the road, take us on a riveting adventure across 21st century America and the battleground between fact and faith.

Old Bug is an oddly mythic, often hilarious, ultimately uplifting, always human odyssey, as these two very different people join forces to keep a 69 VW Beetle alive long enough to reach the distant shores of home.


This is the story of a self-proclaimed spiritual journey, taken by a not-particularly-spiritual person, at the dawn of the 21st century. It is not a spiritual journey in the tradition of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or a hajj to Mecca or Siddhartha’s sitting under the Bodhi tree in search of enlightenment. There are no saffron robes or burning bushes, no talking animals or gauzy vestal virgins. There are no visions in the sky or voices in the night.

It’s a spiritual journey taken in an age of interstates and fast food franchises, of cell phones and Internet connections; a time where most notions of the spiritual are either quaintly nostalgic or cloyingly pretentious; a time when people don’t do things like take spiritual journeys. For me, that was the whole point. I wanted to know if such a thing was even possible anymore.

In an age polarized between those who accept without question a God of Scripture and those who condemn religion as dangerous delusion, I wanted to find some middle course, to search for something greater than myself, something that I could believe in wholeheartedly without having to turn a blind-eye to five centuries of science and discovery. I wanted to quiet an old bug that had been buzzing around my spirit, like an unresolved note, like an unanswered question, for much of my life.

And so I accepted an invitation from a friend I hadn’t seen in years, climbed into a 30-year-old-Volkswagen, and set off on a crazy car trip home.

Professional Reviews

Dale McGowan, author of Parenting Beyond Belief
There are books—and then there are books. The first category includes 99% of your average Barnes & Noble stock, while the second is made up of the paradigm-shifters, the perspective granters, the wonder-inducers—books that, once met, never leave you. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is in this lovely group, along with the works of Vonnegut and Sagan, Bill Bryson and Lewis Thomas. Now add Dan Jackson’s Old Bug, a love-child of Pirsig and Joseph Campbell with a dash of Bryson, a deeply engaged blend of travel through the inner and outer worlds of one thoughtful and thought-filled man. His journey across the country in an uncertain vehicle is the perfect metaphor for the spiritual trek he takes in a vehicle no less temperamental—the questing and questioning mind. It will stick to your hands until you’ve finished, and stick to your mind long afterward.
Dan Jackson never thought he’d end up telling this tale to anyone, but now he’s had his story published. A remarkable and engrossing true story of two friends.
It’s not often I find myself saying this, but the cover of this book instantly got my attention. I absolutely loved the picture of the little blue Beetle and the wide expanse of land, the low clouds in the background and the distant hills. It is one of those things that just grabs you before you even begin to read and I have to admit, even before I read the first paragraph, I knew I would love this. I know they always say never to judge a book by its cover but I think on this occasion you can. It really does give a true impression of the landscape that is within this journey and also the feel of the wilderness.
Old Bug is the tale of an adventure that two friends share who have barely spoken to one another in almost three decades. Through just a few emails, Dan and his old friend Richard arrange a life-changing experience, the experience of driving more then 3,000 miles in a battered ’69 Beetle across America to arrive in New Jersey within just four days.
For Dan, this seems unthinkable, laughable and certainly not something to be even considered. With a wife and eleven year old daughter, Esme, at home Dan feels pretty sure this isn’t the adventure for him. However with the thought of seeing his friend and getting out of the house for almost two weeks, the possibility seems tempting. Even though Richard mentioned this was more of a spiritual quest for himself and a much-needed visit to his parents who he hasn’t seen in 14 years and who he hasn’t shared a very good history with either, Dan believes it might be something of a learning curve for himself.
Grabbing two changes of clothes and a few toiletry essentials, Dan packs his “carry-on” bag and sets off to meet Richard. On seeing his old friend, reality hits home. Is Dan really prepared to face four days of almost continuous driving in a car that is now considered antique?
Along the way the duo face problems from the very start. “Bug” seems to be breaking down a lot on the highway but always the optimist, Richard thinks he has the answers to all mechanical problems and is sure it is “vapor lock”. However his theory is tested along the roads, and within a short space, the two-some are seeking garages and car mechanics in desperate need of an explanation.
Money never lasts long because of all the stops Dan and Richard have to take especially when they are continuingly fishing out for motels, food and petrol.
Can they make it to their destination and reach home? And how will Richard’s family react when he turns up?
I loved reading about two middle aged men taking a voyage of self-discovery in an old Beetle. It is just the most amusing and engrossing read of its type filled with funny episodes and also quite touching moments. Dan explores spiritual questions throughout this book, always the philosopher, and asks just what is God?
Being not much of a believer myself it’s interesting to read what Dan thinks about this religion. A great read that I just couldn’t put down. From the cover to the last word, this is one book I’m sure is destined for a hit.

Midwest Book Reviews - Reviewers Choice
Old Bug: The Spiritual Quest of an Skeptical Guy on a Road Across America with a Long Lost Friend in a Beat-Up Beetle lives up to its title and then some. Recounting a cross-country road trip between the author and a friend who have barely seen each other in thirty years, Old Bug is as much about a lingering question in the soul as it is about the journey, namely, "If I don't believe in traditional religion, then what do I believe in?" Pondering God, morality, mortality, meaning, and the mysteries of life itself, Old Bug recounts confronting inner demons long buried even as it mirthfully recounts the hassle of struggling to keep a '69 VW Beetle running smoothly in the twenty-first century. A gentle, thoughtful read of discovery and larger-than-life quandaries.

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Reader Reviews for "Old Bug"

Reviewed by alex dihes (алик дайхес) 7/2/2008
my son, the excerpt tells about your intentions, it gives no idea what is the book about, and how well is your skill, so that it does not wake up any interest to your book, and as a consequence to buy it.

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