William Least Heat-Moon drove the back roads of America in a beat up old van in the early 1980's after the breakup of his marriage and the loss of his job as a professor. He decided he needed to find something that was missing while it was still there to be found and the result was his classic travel novel Blue Highways. He strictly avoids the major roads and big cities as he tours 38 states and travels roughly 13,000 miles. Setting out from his home in Missouri he ventures alone to places as obscure as Nameless, TN, Globe, AZ, Fort Stockton, TX and Brooklyn Bridge, KY on his round the country trip winding up back where he started.
Once in the small and the forgotten places he finds on the map (the book is named for the blue highways that are the small state and county roads on his map) it may be an out of the way diner or café, a little college community, even a monastery, he retells histories and tales that make these places significant in their own way. Best about the book is the author's way of talking so easily to the people he encounters and getting them to reveal the intimacies and nuances of their lives. While at times the book can be very serious in dealing with social issues, overall the book has a less than serious air about itself due to the continual rating and critiquing of the restaurants he frequents throughout. A nice book that only twenty years after it's writing seems to capture a country decades more removed from today.
This report prepared by David Fletcher