After spending nearly 3 full months trying to make my way through a book I purchased (in the fully free sense of the term) after filling out 3 surveys for Amazon, I’ve determined that in order to make all my reading worthwhile I will now write a quick, short review of each book I read from here until forever (or at least forever in the sense that I have the ambition right now). Since this book has taken so much of my life away at this point, I thought “What the heck! Why not post it here?”. So, here it is:
by William Least Heat-Moon
This book is daunting—both the idea and the undertaking of reading it. It’s hard to imagine what would cause a person to get in a vehicle and drive in one long, lonely circle around the county. And even more difficult to imagine why one would so painstakingly research all the places along the way—unless of course you have a love for the unfamiliar and a need for a fresh start, both predominate motivators of Heat-Moon. The book is very long, and it takes some time to get into the groove of reading it; however, if you stick with it, you’ll find it worthy of both Heat-Moon’s efforts and yours.
Heat-Moon didn’t just travel around the country and record his findings. The book is filled with detailed history, geography, and anthropology. In reality, his book is a peculiar education all on its own; but, thankfully, the fact and detail is complicated and intertwined with real people with real stories. It’s these people that keep you going throughout the book.
To be honest, it’s hard to find Heat-Moon in the book. His voice, passions, and preconceived notions seem to be mostly set aside for the purpose of seeing other people clearly. Sometimes this makes it difficult to string the book together. Other times it makes the book raw enough to stand alone as a book that truly reflects the reality of daily life across America. Amazingly, and I believe a reflection of reality, each person seems to offer up to Heat-Moon single sentences overflowing with wisdom. There’s depth within each person William meets. Their stories, their past, and their eyes offer a worthwhile read; although, you must be prepared to prevail along the journey with Heat-Moon and his car. You may feel like you’ve driven around the country with him—both in the best and worst sense.