The Long Haul can be almost shamefully enjoyable, allowing readers to have their fix of 'fabulous-life-of' porn and class outrage, too. You wouldn’t believe the downpour of indignities and diminishments Murphy has weathered over the years ... Yet there’s a huge question at the heart of Murphy’s memoir, and it’s one he never answers: How did a guy like him — who falls asleep reading Jane Austen, who has a crush on Terry Gross — become a long-haul mover? Murphy gives us a partial explanation ... Midway through The Long Haul, he does something disconcerting and entirely unexpected: He gives up driving. For more than 20 years, if I’m calculating correctly. And he never says why...At just the moment our engagement with Murphy should deepen, it shallows. He gets his second act. But we never learn what went wrong in Act I ... There’s something occasionally mannered and artificial about his dialogue, which tends toward the screwball or the Socratic, depending on the moment. (Though at its best, it’s kind of great, as if Hepburn and Tracy were handed their own CBs) ... What redeems this book, time and time again, are the stories Murphy tells. My goodness, how astonishing they are, and how moving, and how funny, and how just plain weird.
...it’s his rich perspective as a mover that makes this story of trucking life so insightful, given how many times life choices are tested with each family he helps relocate ... For what seems like forever, John McPhee and professional nonfiction writers like him have been the ones to explain things like trucking to us. For now, in a well-written story that rarely slows down, the driver can go it alone.
The Long Haul is an occupational memoir with an untold human story at its center. In crushingly hard work, Murphy seems to be escaping from himself ... At times, Murphy seems determined to unearth a philosophy of long-haul moving. His goal is to practice moving and trucking in an elevated way. To articulate this philosophy, Murphy devotes much of The Long Haul to the nuances of moving ... What stays in your mind at the end of The Long Haul is that feeling of flight. Philosophically, emotionally, practically, Murphy has found ways to feel at home while on the run. He’s made moving a way of life.
The Long Haul can be read and enjoyed as an adventure story and as a peek into an occupation whose practitioners we see rolling down the highway ... Murphy is a pointed social critic. Bedbugging (trucker slang for movers) gives him a diagonal view of American life. Murphy scoffs at misty notions of truckers as 18-wheel cowboys.
Considering the historical role truckers have played in American folklore, it’s surprising there aren’t any more road-weary nomads scribbling captivating stories from their cabs. In that vein, Murphy is a literary pioneer ... The characters he works with are colorfully painted. There’s the 'genial circus dwarf' and the 'very intense elf.' The shippers — the clients he moves — are equally vibrant, yet not often portrayed in a good light ... Long Haul in many ways celebrates the working man, taking a Mike Rowe-esque position that not everyone needs to follow the collegiate path and the world could use thoughtful craftsmen and tradesmen.
...a veteran driver’s informative, humorous and beautifully detailed memoir … He’s learned to maneuver a 53-foot-long trailer into spaces with only inches to spare. And, having earned the appropriate trucker handle U-turn, he’s also learned from firsthand experience when not to even try … His clients, called shippers, run the gamut from friendly folks who feed and tip the crew to clueless executives who leave their dirty dishes in the sink for the movers to wash … It’s a hoot to ride along with Murphy, who advises us four-wheelers to trust maps not auto GPS systems and, whenever passing a big rig, ‘pass it fast and get ahead of it.’
Throughout his recollections, Murphy maintains an air of armchair philosopher, imparting common-sense wisdom and morals from three decades behind the wheel. With carefully retold anecdotes that illustrate the minutiae of life as a trucker, Murphy sheds light on this unique subculture. More than anything, he uses the narrative to combat the negative stigma against movers, taking jabs at past customers who slighted him ... Ultimately, the behind-the-scenes appeal of Murphy’s stories fades a bit after several chapters, but they shed light on a world not experienced by most. An entertaining and insightful snapshot of the hauling life.