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The Lincoln Highway

A friend thought The Lincoln Highway at 592 pages was too long, but for me, I didn’t want it to stop.

I knew Amor Towles could deliver well-crafted prose, the flow of words that please the mind as a fine red wine pleases the palate. Evidence were his previous novels, Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow. In The Lincoln Highway, he delivers an odyssey, one in which the roadway of the title appears to be a forever ambition rather than a conveyance for the journey itself. Towles aims us toward a conclusion by numbering his ten sections, each a day in duration, in reverse order like the countdown for a rocket.

Each chapter bears the name of the character whose point of view it represents and there are five main characters: Emmett, his little brother Billy, Duchess, Woolly, and Sally. Emmett, I figured out right from the start. He’s a midwestern straight arrow with a good head on his shoulders, and Sally is very much the same. As for the other characters, I was constantly evaluating who they were. Was this character smart or dumb, another a lovable con artist or sociopath? Other characters come into the lives of our main characters over the course of the ten days and they each add drama and humor in their own way.

I must reach back far to compare a book I have enjoyed in the same way and as much as I did The Lincoln Highway and that would be Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. They both have the whimsical touch this writer appreciates. The Lincoln Highway will join that book as one of my all-time favorites.

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Jackson Coppley

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