Friday, December 11, 2009

Review: Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

After losing his job and having his marriage crumble, Least Heat Moon sets off on a journey around the country, traveling slowly, along blue highways (state and local routes marked in blue on his maps), meeting the people and examining the small, forgotten places along these back roads. He drives around in a converted van he names Ghost Dancer but rather than have adventures, there's a sort of dreamy, wandering pace to his travels and his narrative. He never mocks the people he meets, listening to their thoughts and opinions respectfully, chronicalling a fast disappearing way of life.

The narrative, as would seem appropriate, is loaded with descriptions of the areas in which he is driving so the reader sees the shift in the physical landscape as Least Heat Moon loops around the country. There is also very much a personal, introspective theme running through the pages. Least Heat Moon interweaves his own Native American heritage and beliefs throughout his chronicle as well as calling attention periodically to history, both recent (at least recent at the time of his journey--1970's) and centuries past. The writing is as meandering as the trip and if the reader is in the proper frame of mind, this works. But be forewarned that only the trip itself, both physical and of self-discovery unite the various chapters. This is a quiet, contemplative sort of book but it resonates deeply long after the last page has been turned.

1 comment:

  1. Yay, you finished it! Clear Off Your Shelves inspire you for a last push?

    I'm glad you liked it. I read it many years ago on my dad's recommendation and enjoyed it.


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