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Likely Stories -- The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles

Adventurous story, by the author of A Gentleman in Moscow, about America's first transcontinental highway, from Times Square, New York City, to the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco, California.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Amor Towles penned a magnificent tale when he wrote, A Gentleman in Moscow. He recently offered another thriller in The Lincoln Highway. The story is long, as was Gentleman in Moscow so I am sure it will be another fantastic story. His first two novels have collectively sold more than four million copies. Towles lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.

Emmett Watson has been released from prison. Billy lived with Salley, a local woman, who cared for him until Emmett’s release. The story begins. “June 12, 1954—The drive from Salina to Morgan was three hours, and for much of it, Emmett hadn’t said a word. For the first sixty miles or so, Warden Williams had made an effort at friendly conversation. He told a few stories about his childhood back east and asked a few questions about Emmett’s on the farm. But this was the last they’d be together, and Emmett didn’t see much sense in going into all of that now. So when they crossed the boarder from Kansas into Nebraska and the warden turned on the radio, Emmette stared out the at the prairie, keeping his thoughts to himself. // When they were five miles south of town, Emmett pointed through the windshield. // ‘You take the next right. It'll be the white house about four miles down the road.’” (3-4).

“‘For some of the young men who come to Salina’ he began, ‘what ever series of events has brought them under our sphere of influence is just the beginning of a long journey through a life of trouble. They’re boys who were never given much sense of right or wrong as children and who see little reason for learning it now. What ever values or ambitions we try to instill in them will, in all likelihood, be cast aside the moment they walk out from under our gaze. Sadly, for these boys it is only a matter of time before they find themselves in the correctional facility at Topeka, or worse’” (4).

Emmett seems to be a gentle young man—in fact he ended up in prison after a serious accident. After a few days at their home, two young man—recently escaped from Salina—turn up at the farm. Duchess is one and Wooly is the other. They seemed bad actors. Emmett remains calm in the hope they will leave. Unfortunately, troubles are about to take a nasty turn. Young Billy is rather naïve, and he ends up giving the car keys to Duchess. He “promises” to return the car in a couple of days.

The Lincoln Highway is another of Amor Towles’s spectacular stories. This one will raise your hair! 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!