Great Road Trips in American Literature- page 2 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson is considered by many to be the quintessential drug-induced book of the 1970s. (Christopher Felver / Corbis)

Great Road Trips in American Literature

From Twain to Kerouac to Bryson, writers have found inspiration in hitting the road and traveling the United States

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(Continued from page 1)

Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, 1982
After losing his wife and job as a professor, William Least Heat-Moon sets out on a soul-searching journey across the United States. He avoids large cities and interstates, choosing to travel only on “blue” highways—so called for their color in the Rand McNally Road Atlas. Along the way, he meets and records conversations with a born-again Christian hitchhiker, an Appalachian log cabin restorer, a Nevada prostitute and a Hopi Native American medical student.

Mississippi Solo by Eddy L. Harris, 1988
Harris was 30 years old when he wrote his memoir of a journey down the length of the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to New Orleans, in a canoe. His discussion of racial issues, a focus of the book, is shaped by his experience of moving from Harlem to suburban St. Louis 20 years earlier. Along the way Harris meets a spectrum of people, forcing him to reassess his preconceived ideas about whom he would encounter on the trip.

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson, 1989
Prolific travel writer Bill Bryson returns to the United States after two decades in England to search for the perfect American small town. But Bryson finds an America unlike the place he idealizes. In a Chevy Chevette he borrows from his mother, Bryson drives through 38 states eschewing the big city and luxury hotels befitting this famed journalist.

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