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Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon
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Blue Highways (original 1982; edition 1983)

by William Least Heat Moon

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2,269402,820 (4.03)83
Member:LizzieD
Title:Blue Highways
Authors:William Least Heat Moon
Info:Fawcett (1983), Edition: First Edition, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:travel, USA, wrdrbl4, read

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Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon (1982)

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» See also 83 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
A little difficult to get into and to hold my attention. Dipped in and out. Prefer his book, "River Horse." ( )
  Cleoxcat | May 28, 2015 |
AN UNEMPLOYED ENGLISH PROFESSOR RUMINATING IN PLACES I DON'T WANT TO VISIT

Forty years ago William Lewis Trogdon (aka Heat-Moon) jumped in his pickup and circumnavigated the US (clockwise) driving mostly on back roads over three to four months. Four years after his return he completed "Blue Highways", a book that I found to be incredibly over-rated with too much bar-room dialog, poetry, history, and personal philosophy; this is supposed to be a travel book and what do I care about an unemployed English professor's view of life). One example - he seemed to avoid National Parks and Monuments, with a minor exception or two, and I find this to be one of the more disappointing flaws of the book. I don't see how a road book (the author says this is not a memoir, ha!) through the USA, particularly one inclusive of so many western states, can exclude our country's greatest treasures. I would guess that Trogdon would argue that "The People" are our greatest treasures. Fine, but then he could have very easily have gotten far more interesting stories by camping out in the middle of Times Square and grabbing random passersby - after all, there are now far more than eight million stories....

At page ten of the book I had high hopes - the author had just described a little town in Kentucky, LaGrange, where seven freight trains ran down Main Street each day. I immediately grabbed a notecard and referenced LaGrange KY, and slipped it in my file for my own next road trip (#6). I thought it would be cool to sit in a small town diner and watch a freight ramblin' by as I ate breakfast. I continued reading with the expectation of adding many more gems from the remaining 400 pages. But there weren't any. There were many mentions of small towns, with oral history from many senior locals, but in the rest of "Blue Highways" I did not encounter another place that I would want to visit. I checked out several on Google Maps, and most had seen better days. Many appeared to be little more than gas stations at crossroads, perhaps with a mini-mart nearby; many seemed to be run by folks hanging on thanks only to their social security checks.

At the three quarter point of the book, just as the author was entering the north east, he seemed to me to be getting increasingly testy and irritable. Maybe living for several weeks in the back of a truck will do that to you. Throughout the book, the author constantly made critical comments about change in general, and seemed to really relish the good old days (and he only in his upper 30s when he wrote this). He was very critical of the NE and found trash and concrete everywhere, and he was particularly harsh in his comments about West Virginia. Interesting, since I found more trash at the foothills of the Rockies, especially in Colorado, than I did in most of the 47 states that I have visited. (Texas would come a close second).

Now in all fairness to the writer, I note that there are many people who like this book very much. If you are giving consideration to reading it, I would suggest that you stop at your local bookstore (or Amazon if there is a "Look Inside" feature for this), and read a few pages. I do not recommend it, nor will I read other Least-Moon books. ( )
  maneekuhi | Apr 24, 2015 |
A great meandering travelogue. Backroads America at its best. ( )
  Nero56 | Apr 7, 2015 |
A bit dated, but nonetheless a cool travelogue. ( )
  ginger.hewitt | Jan 20, 2015 |
Blue Highways is a perfect companion to a certain kind of travel — the kind where you don't know where you're going, but know you don't want to be where you have been. The book is also masterfully written, with a kind of postmodernist circling about (what is the meaning of travel, of life?) punctuated by a wealth of ecological and historical knowledge about places. They balance each other well, so that the book isn't just an encyclopedia of minutia, nor a tiresome epistemological navel-gazer. ( )
  bexaplex | Jun 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
[William Least] Heat Moon climbed into his Econoline van and drove 12,000 miles down the back roads of America — and recorded it all in this big, richly detailed book. ... Heat Moon writes from the perspective of "a contaminated man who will be trusted by neither red nor white." His Indian mind feels an especially violent antipathy to the wasteland of ecocidal capitalism, but his white mind knows how tenuous his red roots are. ... An immensely appealing performance.
added by Roycrofter | editKirkus Reviews (Dec 8, 1982)
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Least Heat-Moonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Camp, Maion Op densecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tex, Gideon denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316353299, Paperback)

First published in 1982, William Least Heat-Moon's account of his journey along the back roads of the United States (marked with the color blue on old highway maps) has become something of a classic. When he loses his job and his wife on the same cold February day, he is struck by inspiration: "A man who couldn't make things go right could at least go. He could quit trying to get out of the way of life. Chuck routine. Live the real jeopardy of circumstance. It was a question of dignity."

Driving cross-country in a van named Ghost Dancing, Heat-Moon (the name the Sioux give to the moon of midsummer nights) meets up with all manner of folk, from a man in Grayville, Illinois, "whose cap told me what fertilizer he used" to Scott Chisholm, "a Canadian citizen ... [who] had lived in this country longer than in Canada and liked the United States but wouldn't admit it for fear of having to pay off bets he made years earlier when he first 'came over' that the U.S. is a place no Canadian could ever love." Accompanied by his photographs, Heat-Moon's literary portraits of ordinary Americans should not be merely read, but savored.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:57 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads. William Least-Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map--if they get on at all--only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot Mississippi." His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation of the true American experience.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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