I have an obvious interest in reading what Amazon’s readers have thought of “Blue Highways” and “Travels With Charley.”
Most people liked “Blue Highways.” I thought it was pretty good — much better than “Charley” — though the first time I picked it up 20 years ago I couldn’t get through more than 30 pages.
After I forced myself to read “BH” in 2010 as prep for my road trip, however, I changed my tune.
William Least Heat-Moon, who is really English prof William Trogdon and is only about 1/16th more Indian than I am, is a fine writer and good journalist with superior descriptive abilities and the ability to meet regular people and capture their charms.
Trogdon, naturally, given his profession, carried the usual East Coast left-liberal baggage with him on his late 1970s road trip — America was too commercialized, homogenized, franchised, etc., etc. If his book wasn’t excerpted in the New Yorker, it should have been.
Overall, I’d give “Blue Highways” four stars on Amazon’s rating scale. But my favorite review is this great hatchet job from 2000 by “A Customer”:
12 of 74 people found the following review helpfulBy A CustomerThis review is from: Blue Highways: A Journey into America (Paperback)
(Make that star rating up there NEGATIVE 5 stars) I can’t believe I’m actually taking the time to write this for such an awful book, but I read all of the other reviews here and I can’t understand why everyone thinks this book is so incredible. I thought it was the most uninteresting, torturous book I have ever read. If this book is any indication of what Heat-Moon’s personality and his English classes were like, I understand why he was laid off (and why his wife cheated on him!). 400-something pages of grueling, thick, unconnected text ruined my entire summer and destroyed any previous desire that I might have had to travel cross-country. I would not recommend this book to anyone; I think it should be destroyed.
I hope “A Customer” has died by now so he doesn’t get a chance to take his axe to “Dogging Steinbeck.”