|The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles | Goodreads|
|Review||This is a tough review to write. The book is unlike any I've read. With roughly a dozen or so characters, some continue throughout, while others seem to pop in and out, such that frankly it is difficult for me to remember who is who. Each chapter is written in the voice of that chapter's main character. There are no quotation marks, and dashes are used to denote the voice of the speaker. One gets used to this unique punctuation style and frankly it is an effective technique.
The gist of the story involves three young men who have been sentenced to a mandatory program in the midwestern U.S. Prison would be too strong a word, but they are not allowed to leave before their required time is completed. Think of it as a juvenal detention sentence they must serve. They represent three very different personalities and characters. The main thread revolves around one of these, a fundamentally good person, sent improperly by a crumb-bum father, with an absent mother, who seeks to take care of his younger brother, a precocious boy for sure. The parents of these young men represent some of the most basically worthless folks ever.
Interspaced inside an ever-revolving cast, there are some vivid and unforgettable scenes. One, with a tornado approaching in the Midwest stands out. Another fascinating concept involves the mental diagram of life starting as a singularity point, expanding upwards in the shape of a diamond, then as some point beginning to close back in for the symmetrical top half of a diamond shape until it closes down and then out at a point once again. The author, Towles, must have an IQ of immense size and scope as he manages to include such a varied world of words and ideas - it is almost endless. But the scope makes it hard to follow the story, although it does, like the diamond shape, eventually coalesce into itself and end with a surprise.
Be prepared to re-read portions of this as it is hard to follow in one "simple reading." Take that as a positive or a negative point. The brilliance is hard to follow.