The Lincoln Highway was the first Trans-continental highway for cars in the United States. Between Laramie, WY and Cheyenne, WY on I-80, there is a bust of Abraham Lincoln that originally marked the highest point of elevation on the Lincoln Highway between New York and San Francisco.
None of that is relevant in The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, I just like the fun factedness of it all.
Eighteen-year-old Emmett and eight-year-old Billy Watson have nothing to hold them to the farm in Nebraska. Their father is dead, their mother left years ago and the farm is foreclosed upon by the bank. Emmett is recently returned from a year-long sentence at a work farm for involuntary manslaughter, which also makes the social atmosphere of the small town less than welcoming. So when their neighbor suggests they seek greener pastures elsewhere, Emmett is already ten steps ahead. Unfortunately, two of his fellow inmates at the work farm came along for the ride and have plans of their own.
I read Towles’s Rules of Civility several years ago, in fact can see the book on my shelf as I type, but have no memory of the story. I remember being pleasantly surprised at how authentically he wrote the women in that story but I could not tell you any details. What stands out to me in The Lincoln Highway is similarly less about the story than about how Towles has an empathetic writing style that allows him to shift viewpoints between characters with wildly different personalities. I don’t know how long the actual story of The Lincoln Highway will stick in my brain but the general sense of enjoyment will linger.