Wild Adventures in America in the 1950s

Amor Towles wrote a rollercoaster of a story about a journey across America in the 1950s. Lincoln Hwy The storytelling hums with pleasure.

Bert Wagendorp

Amor Towles (1964) is a former investment banker who, after the success of his first novel, Rules of Civilization From 2011, he decided to become a full-time writer. Then he wrote a bestseller A gentleman in Moscow (2016) and now lie Lincoln Hwy At the store – that’s in the US, among others The Washington Post And The Times Magazine Named a best book of 2021, more than a million copies have now been sold in the United States.

It’s easy to understand why. Lincoln Hwy An American novel in a long tradition of 19th-century writers such as Herman Melville and Mark Twain considered founders, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner are John Irving and Philip Mayer (son) Modern Lectures: The Great American Novels, the storytelling buzzes with pleasure and adventure, in which the reader can lose breath while simultaneously defining America. Towles may not be one of the greatest, but he does Good old American Storytelling and a sheer indescribable pleasure.

Lincoln Hwy Name of the first transcontinental link between Times Square in New York and Lincoln Park in San Francisco. Towles begins his story in Morgen, a fictional town modeled after Aurora, Nebraska. It’s no coincidence that Morgan is exactly halfway down the Lincoln Highway. The main character Emmett Watson and his little brother Billy want to follow the trail to San Francisco, following their missing mother and a series of postcards sent from places along the route. But fate – and the writer – decide otherwise: the journey goes east, to New York.

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Two of Emmett’s acquaintances suddenly emerge from the trunk of the car he returns to his dead father’s farm. The two escaped this way from a juvenile detention center in Kansas, where Emmett also spent some time. Along with Duchess Hewitt and Woolley Martin, the cast includes the main characters Lincoln Hwy Completes the story of Emmett and Billy and turns it 180 degrees. The Duchess and Woolley intend to head east to collect Woolley’s inheritance at his paternal estate in the Adirondacks of upstate New York.

Towles plays with his main characters, for example by describing Emmet from the omnipotent narrator’s perspective and using I-point of view for the Duchess, making it clear how that choice affects your view of the characters.

Lincoln Hwy Set in America in 1954, it was a land of Studebakers and steam trains that allowed you to travel illegally. But above all, a country where there was still room for adventure and uncertainty, without mobile phones and navigation.

Towles wrote a story on a rollercoaster that lasts a total of ten days, but those ten days are so full of developments and odd encounters that you only realize at the end that only a week and a half has passed.

Those ten days are enough to paint a variety of characters: Emmett, a righteous young man who strives only for good; The Duchess, the dark, somewhat violent but ruthless son of a vaudeville actor, has yet to pick a bone with him; Wooley is a soft dreamer addicted to tranquilizers. Billy, an 8-year-old boy, read the Bible 25 times in ten days: Professor Abacus Abernadez is a collection of heroes, adventurers, and other intrepid travelers. Despite his youth, Billy is the boy around whom the story revolves and determines its outcome.

Fur procession

But not before several characters pass in front of the reader, including false preacher John, black warrior Ulysses Dixon, Billy and his knowledge of the classic Odysseus, and Emmet’s practical girl-next-door Sally. . In the end, Towles isn’t too crazy, and we end up on the 54th floor of the Empire State Building in New York with Professor Abacus Abernath, who’s talking to Billy about how you actually tell a story and how myths are created. Start in the middle, says the precocious Billy, and the professor has to agree with him.

You sometimes think: now that Towles has gone mad, an editor should have hit the brakes here, but the pace at which the story is told quickly fades away again; You are already in a very believable chapter, the previous one was very funny.

After 575 pages, you put the book down: tired but satisfied and full of experience.

Amor Towles, ‘The Lincoln Highway’, Meilenhoff, 575 p., €26.99. Translation by Theo Schomaker.Fig. rv

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