The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America

Counterpoint. Oct. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781640092907. $26. TRAV
This anthology of beautifully constructed, loosely connected travelogs and reflections centers on movement and mutability, as Los Angeles Review of Books editor Zoellner explores the imprint of the American people on one another and the land. Zoellner was fortified for this project by his love for driving; he calculates the equivalent of more than 30 solo coast-to-coast trips plus journeys into all 48 contiguous states over 20 years, barely stopping at times for a few hours’ sleep in his car. Here he considers all kinds of topics, from his quirky quest to climbing the highest point in every state to the decline of local newspapers and mom-and-pop stores. He visits the Czech immigrant town of Spillville, IA, as well as tiny municipalities like St. Louis, where the main industry is traffic tickets. The poignant final chapter sees Zoellner standing witness (after an all-night drive, of course) at the demolition of his grandmother’s hand-built home of 61 years.
VERDICT Empathetic, candid, and curious, Zoellner has built an eclectic, eloquent guide to the social and physical landscapes of America.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing