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A Route 66 Companion
     

A Route 66 Companion

by David King Dunaway, Robert Waldmire (Illustrator)
 

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Even before there was a road, there was a route. Buffalo trails, Indian paths, the old Santa Fe trace-all led across the Great Plains and the western mountains to the golden oasis of California. America's insatiable westering urge culminated in Route 66, the highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. Opened in 1926, Route 66 became the quintessential American road.

Overview

Even before there was a road, there was a route. Buffalo trails, Indian paths, the old Santa Fe trace-all led across the Great Plains and the western mountains to the golden oasis of California. America's insatiable westering urge culminated in Route 66, the highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. Opened in 1926, Route 66 became the quintessential American road. It offered the chance for freedom and a better life, whether you were down-and-out Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl in the 1930s or cool guys cruising in a Corvette in the 1960s. Even though the interstates long ago turned Route 66 into a bylane, it still draws travelers from around the world who long to experience the freedom of the open road.
A Route 66 Companion gathers fiction, poetry, memoir, and oral history to present a literary historical portrait of America's most storied highway. From accounts of pioneering trips across the western plains to a sci-fi fantasy of traveling Route 66 in a rocket, here are stories that explore the mystique of the open road, told by master storytellers ranging from Washington Irving to Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion, Sylvia Plath, Leslie Marmon Silko, and John Steinbeck. Interspersed among them are reminiscences that, for the first time, honor the varied cultures-Native American, Mexican American, and African American, as well as Anglo-whose experiences run through the Route 66 story like the stripe down the highway. So put the top down, set the cruise control, and "make that California trip" with A Route 66 Companion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Route 66 has a long and interesting history, and Dunaway—the recipient of Berkeley's first Ph.D. in American Studies—has done a fantastic job selecting works of literature about "America's Main Street" to tell its dynamic story, supplemented by the editor's own invaluable commentary. The pieces span all genres, from poetry to memoir to detective fiction to SF. The first chapter tells of the early years, when in 1858 Lieutenant Edward F. Beale surveyed the prospective route for a wagon road with a caravan of camels. That path became a railroad in the 1890s, and finally a highway in 1926. From there, the selections are split into sections focusing on a different regional area of the famed road. In "Plains 66: Oklahoma and Texas," the autobiography of Will Rogers—the man for whom the route was named—is excerpted. Also included is a selection from The Negro Motorist Green Book, a text detailing establishments open to African-Americans in the 30s. In the New Mexico and Arizona chapter, Mary Toya writes of growing up in the "Indian Camp" in Winslow, Arizona, where families lived in boxcars and were not permitted to leave their homes at night. A selection from Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath is included in this chapter as well. "66 is the path of a people in flight," he wrote. The California chapter has many great pieces, but Sylvia Plath's poem "Sleep in the Mojave Desert" is a definite standout in this all-around remarkable anthology. Illus. (Feb.)
Oral History Review - Nancy MacKay
A Route 66 Companion is a great read and should find its way to the hands of any armchair traveler or lover of the history of the American West.
Oral History Review
"A Route 66 Companion is a great read and should find its way to the hands of any armchair traveler or lover of the history of the American West."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292726604
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
02/01/2012
Pages:
162
Sales rank:
643,674
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

David King Dunaway has written about American culture for publications ranging from the New York Times to the Virginia Quarterly. He is the author of nine volumes of history and biography, including How Can I Keep from Singing?, a biography of American folk singer Pete Seeger, which won the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about American music. Dunaway is currently a professor at the University of New Mexico, Distinguished Professor of Broadcasting at San Francisco State University, and a DJ for KUNM-FM radio in Albuquerque.

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