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.
©1982 William Least Heat-Moon (P)2013 Hachette Audio
A deep and very thought provoking story describing the journey of a highly intelligent man as he journeys through some really fascinating and diverse parts of the US. His fusion of native American and European ancestry makes for a refreshing and entertaining perspective on what makes those remote and sometimes isolated communities tick. I loved following William Least Heat Moon's journey on Google Earth or Google Maps as I commute to work on the train.
"A new Mark Twain... this is a great book"
I loved this book. The title intrigued me but with a new author you never know, especially with no ratings. The book grabbed me right from the beginning and never let go. It is very well written. It is funny, interesting, quirky, just an overall good experience. If you want to go on a road adventure through the back roads of America and into local peoples homes and lives try this book. I do not think you will be disappointed.
"A Journey into the Heart of America"
The people William Least Heat Moon met. They made this book, without them the book would be lacking.
A man sets out across America with a few gas cards, little money and a van to live in. He's searching for something, maybe himself, what America is to him, history, peace of mind, adventure? He doesn't fully understand it himself. Recently divorced, out of work and generally down on his luck, Least Heat Moon is taking a stab at a long time dream to drive across America on the back roads, avoiding mainstream everything. He does it and this book documents his journey.
No, but the performance is excellent. The voice changes and inflection capture the essence of the words and make you feel as if you are there.
The encounter with the guy in the desert. The guy is depressed and a bit strange. I can't really describe it here, but somehow the whole incident becomes a metaphor for two different ways to solve your problems or to look at the world.
What is this book? It's part local lore and history of various places in America, part travel adventure, part introspective and all excellent writing. America is a different place than it was in 1978 when the journey was made, but I think the basic fabric of America that Least Heat Moon discovered is still there.
"A wonderful book made better by Joe Barrett"
Yes. I read the book years ago, and Joe Barrett's narration brought it back to life for me.
I can't say; everything about this book is memorable.
His voice with its gruff edge brings forth the writer's sense of humor along with his respect for people of all walks and means.
"Vast and Sweet"
The audio version of Blue Highways has one perk not available in the text version and that is the wonderfully performed, but not over done, variety of accents from across the country.
The story is compassionate and insightful and inspirational.
A nostalgic look back that would be easily translated into a PBS tv series of "where are they now" type shows on the many town and people William introduces us to. If someone could make that happen, it's a free idea for you.
"Quiet but beautiful journey"
This is a quiet journey that is best with full attention rather than multitasking but the lyrical descriptions will reward your focus . I took breaks at times for something faster paced but came back. My favorite parts are his conversations with folks on the East Coast near the end. If you are looking for a story of everyday people from across the country mixed with poetic descriptions of geography, listen to this book. Oh and the reader did a fantastic job, changing voices, tone and cadence to fit the region and gender and age.
I have not read the print version.
The only thing I have read that is remotely similar is On the Road.
This is the fist time I heard Joe Barret. It is an extraordinary performance. I think he is the most talented narrator I have heard so far. His narration is extremely versatile with great accents for the huge number of people encountered in this book from all across the United States.
The afterward where he talks about getting this published. Also, the desription of his day on the fishing boat was particularly vivid.
"Amazing Book - Amazing Narration"
Fun. Motivating. Insightful.
Travels with Charly.
So many different characters. So many different, seemingly excellent, accents. I'm not an expert.
Motivation to go out and explore.
If you've read this book before, the narration makes listening well worth your while!
"You don't read this one for the excitement !"
We listened to this as we drove ourselves from eastern Canada to southern Texas. Very often we listened with the map open to give ourselves a sense of place. We don't know many of the places William Least-Moon visited . This was an introduction. Least-Moon is a very lyrical writer. Using Joe Barrett's voice to hear his writing was a wonderful experience. Long parts of the narrative were boring, but we kept listening because every once in a while he would paint a picture or give us quote that made it all worth while. We , as well as he, enjoy our "wheel estate".
"A tale for those with wandering souls"
I loved the influence that the characters met during Heat-Moon's travel had on his direction; physically, mentally, and spiritually. Each character described opens a view into their world that begs question and consideration for more.
When the author traveled through Selma, AL to inquire of the changes, or lack there of, after the march of Martin Luther King. A tension is experienced during that time in the story that tease the feelings of fear and rage.
The character voices were each original and alive with identity.
Life through the looking glass
"Lovely book!! Outstanding."
This is an outstanding story!! It has a magic quality that I can't put my finger on, but I loved it so much that I went and bought other books by the author when I was only 1/2 way through!!
This adventure is actually born of tragedy in the author's life. William Least Heat-Moon was separated from his wife when he lost his teaching job. With no prospects for the near future, Moon decides to travel the country using back roads and sleeping in his truck, which he converted it into a sort of make-shift RV. Along the way, he meets many interesting, compelling and charming people. He travels to a variety of fascinating destinations, some unknown and some famous, and some with really strange names! He delves into all kinds of issues with the people he meets. Some issues are serious and important, and some are just strange and humorous. The result of it all is the adventure of a lifetime. A true JOY to read!
Im pretty sure Blue Highways was first published in 1983. Fortunately, I didn't know that when I started listening. I might have skipped the book, considering it too dated to be of interest for me. In fact, Least Heat-Moon began his drive through the U.S. in 1978, the year I was born. After only a few chapters though, I was hooked. This book is anything but dated!! Don't get me wrong, some of his experiences don't reflect the the current state of things; for example, his encounters with racism in the Deep South were shocking to me and far worse in 1978 than in 2013. But this is incredibly relevant. It feels really good to see how far we've come as a country. It gives hope that the positive changes will continue. Moon also discusses the changes in the cities he visits. Exploring the histories with the people who live there and love their city.
For me, the most touching aspect of the story involves issues that are timeless, issues that involve the complexities of human nature. The search for spiritual balance, the contrast of the religious and the secular, the desire to be isolated or to be social, the fundamental need to connect and understand people of different cultures, ages, and backgrounds...
I was really blown away by Moon's beautiful writing style. It's very human, thought provoking, and quite clever! As an audiobook, this was a sheer joy!
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