In 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson is going home to Nebraska after he served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett's intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew, but life has other plans in store.
As it turns out, not reaching the intended destination becomes entirely the point and power of this mischievous, wise and wildly entertaining novel ... Towles goes all in on the kind of episodic, exuberant narrative haywire found in myth or Homeric epic. The novel opens wide, detours beget detours, the point of view expands and rotates ... It’s tempting to speak of the book’s cast of minor characters, though one gradually learns that there are no minor characters. Each one of them, Towles implies, is the central protagonist of an ongoing adventure that is both unique and universal ... At nearly 600 pages, The Lincoln Highway is remarkably brisk, remarkably buoyant. Though dark shadows fall across its final chapters, the book is permeated with light, wit, youth ... when we look through his lens we see that this brief interstice teems with stories, grand as legends.
... gorgeously crafted ... The Lincoln Highway deftly shifts between first- and third-person narration ... Towles binds the novel with compassion and scrupulous detail: his America brims with outcasts scrambling over scraps from the Emerald City, con artists behind the curtain, the innocents they exploit ... Examining the dynamics of race, class and gender, Towles draws a line between the social maladies of then and now, connecting the yearnings of his characters with our own volatile era. He does it with stylish, sophisticated storytelling. There’s no need for fancy narrative tricks ... The Lincoln Highway...is a long and winding road, but one Towles’s motley crew navigates with brains, heart and courage. The novel embraces the contradictions of our character with a skillful hand, guiding the reader forward with 'a sensation of floating—like one who’s being carried down a wide river on a warm summer day.'
... a joyride ... hitch onto this delightful tour de force and you'll be pulled straight through to the end, helpless against the inventive exuberance of Towles' storytelling ... elegantly constructed and compulsively readable ... Towles' new novel...revisits American myths with a mix of warm-hearted humor and occasional outbursts of physical violence and malevolence that recall E.L. Doctorow's work ... There's so much to enjoy in this generous novel packed with fantastic characters...and filled with digressions, magic tricks, sorry sagas, retributions, and the messy business of balancing accounts.