Written by William Least Heat-Moon
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1982
by Kelly Haug
Mud Lick, Kentucky. Dime Box, Texas. Nameless, Tennessee and Ball Club, Minnesota. These are just a few of the stops on William Least Heat-Moon’s candid expedition into the heart of our beloved USA, and you can be sure that there is an interesting story behind every dot on the map he passes through.
After equipping an old cargo van with little more than a sleeping bunk and a Coleman cooler, the author sets out on an incredible soul searching journey to find the real America and his own self as well. His plan is simple. Circumnavigate the lower forty-eight and learn as much as possible about how we live life in this country, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary that may be.
Through detailed imagery and imaginative language, Least Heat-Moon brings the people and places he encounters to life by making them seem so familiar and real that you feel like you are on the road with him. From the deep South to the Canadian border, the reader is immersed in regional dialects, local history, and some really fantastic cooking. The author swears to a theory that says the quality of the food served at any cafe is determined by how many calendars are hanging on the wall.
This 13,000-mile chronicle also hints at what the difference between a traveler and a tourist really is. A traveler departs from a place a changed person, with the sense of knowing where he was, and an anticipation of what is next to come. A tourist leaves a place merely to go home.
Blue Highways captures the true kitsch and honky-tonk style of America. It also opens our eyes to the rich and diverse culture we live in and far too often take for granted. If cabin fever hits hard this winter and you just cannot make it out on that charter flight to the tropics, pick up this book and let it take you places you might not otherwise find yourself.