"When it comes to waiting, has-beens have had plenty of practice. Like when they were waiting for their big break, or for their number to come in. Once it became clear that those things weren't going to happen, they started waiting for other things. Like for the bars to open, or the welfare check to arrive. Before too long, they were waiting to see what it would be like to sleep in a park, or to take the last two puffs from a discarded cigarette. They were waiting to see what new indignity they could become accustomed to while they were waiting to be forgotten by those they once held dear. But most of all, they waited for the end."
I was taking a training and noticed that my (new to me) coworker next to me had a book themed sticker on their laptop. When the break rolled around we talked about books. She told me she just finished the Lincoln Highway and that she really liked it. I put the book on my wishlist and a day or so later found my wife bought it for me. At this point, I knew it was hardcover and had a train on the cover. By happenstance, I'd finished my last book when this one arrived so on sight of hundreds of unread books I read the newest one in the pile.
The Lincoln Highway is the story of three young men and an adolescent boy traveling across the United States in 1954. They all have their motivations for their trek. The book is an interesting review of mid-century America. There's a jail break, a lengthy discourse on making preserves, revenge, manslaughter, mental heath, an erotic circus, a mythic hobo, a professor writing about heroes from the Empire State Building, a washed up alcoholic vaudevillian Karl Marx impersonator, nuns, fetuccini, sneaking aboard freight trains, silver dollars, and salvation. More than anything I suppose the book is about family, specifically fathers.
What I enjoyed most were the characters. As the preceding paragraph might suggest the characters can be larger than life as are the situations they find themselves in. At nearly 600 pages the characters have plenty of time to develop. I will say despite the length a few pages seemed wasted. While this book is definitely about the journey there are a few parts of the book that seem to slow down. By the end of the volume there are also a quite a few plot threads that aren't resolved which is probably my chief detraction from the book.
In spite of a few resolutions missing from the book I didn't necessarily feel cheated or that I'd wasted my time with the book. Towles' writing, characterization, and settings are superb. He also drops a few lines of prose that are terrific. Overall I'd definitely cross the country with these characters again. 5/5.