This week we enjoyed the first snow in our newly purchased home. What is it about snow that just seems to invoke walking in it, playing in it, getting cold enough to go inside and get a hot drink and a good book?
As a reader who prefers historical novels and mysteries, I had been searching for a book that would really capture my attention. Just in time for the snow I discovered Amor Towles’ book The Lincoln Highway. I had not come across his works before and got curious about him. His personal story I found quite fascinating.
As reported in Time Magazine, September 29, 2021, Towles started writing in first grade, and years later at a Yale seminar was taken aside by Paris Review co-founderPeter Matthiessen, who saw a talent the two made a pact to cultivate. So when Towles broke the news that to please his father, a banker, he was going to work in finance, his mentor was “furious.” America’s finance industry is notorious for skimming the brightest minds from every field. “The people I’ve seen go to Wall Street do not come back,” Towles remembers Matthiessen saying. “So you should assume that at this moment, you have turned your back on writing for the rest of your life.”
Towles would occasionally see Matthiesen and be reminded of his writing aspirations. After his decade in the world of finance, he concluded that if he didn’t resume writing he would reach 59 “bitter and a drinker.”
His first book, Rules of Civility, was well received and was followed by an even bigger hit, A Gentleman in Moscow. His latest, The Lincoln Highway, is set in the 1950s, opening with the release of Emmett from a Nebraska reform school, after serving time for the accidental killing of a bully. His little brother has discovered a stash of postcards their mother sent after she abandoned the family and which were never shared by their now deceased father. Towles searched out vintage post cards and framed his story around the boys’ intention to follow the path of their mother’s postcards across the Lincoln Highway.
One of the signs for me of a good book or movie is that the characters become real enough that I care about what happens to them as the story unfolds. He definitely creates characters that engage my interest in their lives and fortunes.
I anticipate I will have many snowy-days reading opportunities. And snow or not, I wish you many occasions to indulge in a good book.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: Some of the postcards Towles gathered: