Curbside Book Review: Truck by John Jerome

While I cannot quantify what it truly is, there is enough of a certain hook within John Jerome’s book Truck to have compelled a book review.

Was it subject matter?  Yes, but no.

Was it his writing style?  No, but maybe.

It’s hard to say but that hook exists nonetheless.

Purchasing this book was an act of expediency.  My wife was purchasing a rather specialized book from a non-Amazonian bookselling website.  The shipping costs were exorbitant, although she was within a few dollars of free shipping.  Perusing subjects for about three minutes, I quickly found this book, a book I cannot recall ever hearing about.

Culled from the web.


The hook was set with the online description.  Jerome has a goal of rebuilding a 1950 Dodge pickup (Hook #1?), he is at a point in life where he has become more introspective (Hook #2?), and he has a strained relationship with technology (Hook #3?).  The premise is highly relatable.

Perhaps another hook is Jerome’s book being vastly different from the last two I’ve read.  This follows my having read Andy Rooney’s My War and William L. Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  Palate cleanser?  Not really, but I sought something far different from the last two.

Truck succeeds on that front.

Admittedly, I am not a voracious book reader.  Part of my non-voracious reading is due to displeasure in sitting still for long.  Also, I prefer to experience life first-hand.  Long ago my mother kept extolling the virtues of books and one can do anything or go anywhere with one.  My response was asking why would I care to do that when I could take that same time and have my own adventure.

That last sentiment has softened somewhat over the years.

Jerome’s book appears to have been written in 1974 or 1975 and was first published in 1977.  The rebuild of his truck was in late 1972 and early 1973 as he makes reference to the death of President Truman in December 1972 as being in the midst of his rebuilding efforts; Jerome even names his pickup The Harry S Truman.  Early in the book Jerome discusses his thoughts about how pickups for personal, non-business use are simply a fad and how a new one could cost as much as $6,000.  It is obvious the latter has changed and he was misreading the former.

It would be interesting to know Jerome’s assessment of how the Big 3 truck makers of Dodge/Ram, Ford, and General Motors have evolved over the years.  This is the closest to Jerome’s blue, short-bed Dodge one can purchase as of 2024.  Ford and GM still produce a regular cab, short bed pickup.  At least for now.

Yet, in describing his yearning and zeal to rehabilitate what was then a $200 pickup, Jerome appears to somewhat defeat, or at least defang, his own arguments about faddishness.  With obvious enthusiasm, he explains his daydream about how his rebuilt truck will infuse positivity into all aspects of his life.  Not only would his truck allow him to haul at will whatever needs hauling but having a truck will be so great it will even eliminate the rock in the soil of his New Hampshire homestead.

Another Dodge culled from the web.


Throughout his internal debate, and even during the process of rebuilding his Dodge, Jerome fights with the increasing invasion of technology into everyday life.  His quandary is about when technology changed from benign to malignancy, what amount of technology is personally acceptable, and how much is simply there for technology’s sake?

It’s a prescient question that is likely even more relevant in 2024 than it was in the mid-1970s.  Have we, as a society, incorporated too much technology?

His struggle prompted thought, particularly when thinking of it in terms of interpersonal communication, with a recent event having helped stimulate thought in that direction.

Consider…once upon a time, if you needed to contact a person, you went to see them.  This methodology then expanded to writing a letter.  Choices then expanded to telegrams.  Then phone calls.  Later, emails.  Now, to exacerbate the clutter, there are text messages and online videoconferences plus other methods I am undoubtedly overlooking.  Despite all these advances are we as a society truly better communicating with each other now than at any prior point in history?

Expanding this technological struggle in terms of Jerome’s 1950 Dodge, have we truly bettered ourselves in the realm of transportation?  Jerome’s Dodge had a carbureted, flat-head, gas powered straight-six and a three-speed manual transmission.  As Jerome observed, automotive technology had transitioned greatly from 1950 to the time he wrote this book in the mid-1970s.

Think about it; to extend his observation, since 1950 the automotive landscape has evolved into having overhead valve engines, automatic transmissions, high performance V8s, overhead cams, fuel injection, turbochargers, variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation, computerized engine management…the list is long.

The dilemma is all this technology has succeeded in what?  More complex machines that still do what a 1950 Dodge pickup does…haul your load of cow shit from Point A to Point B.  The end result is still the same.

Jerome’s book is ostensibly about a 1950 Dodge although he successfully explores an abundance of other subjects along the way.  That is the true hook of Jerome’s book.  It is one of the best confirmations yet that life is all about the journey and all the tangential voyages that happen during the journey; the destination is quite secondary.

Truck is a truly worthwhile read.