750cc Down Lincoln Highway TP
Publisher: NBM
Release Date: January 15, 2020
Price: $12.99
Creator(s): Bernard Chambaz (writer); Barroux (artist)
Format: 88 pgs., Black & White, 8"x11", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-681-1245-8
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

This is an odd book, and it belongs to a genre that consists of very few books about traveling for little or no purpose.  It is literally a story of the road less traveled.  Unlike the many books about the more famous Route 66, this is a tale of following the Lincoln Highway, which is sort of a composite route across the country.  The Lincoln Highway’s pieces mostly follow a route that is farther north than Route 66, as they coincide only around Chicago.  It is likely that even most Americans have never been to the places along this road, so for a French author and his illustrator to create this work is rather amazing.

Some of the historical notes will also be unfamiliar, or require quick glances at Wikipedia to verify things that really sound odd [like the idea that Malcolm X was born in Omaha, which just doesn’t seem like his kind of town, but it was].

The trigger to this cross-country trip is an odd breakup, described on the back cover of the book.  The entries are fascinating, if a bit weird, like on the Weehawken page: "Here’s where Fred Astaire began dancing, but frankly, that doesn’t lighten my mood."

The artwork is a bit cartoony and dreamlike, made up of sketches and ink washes.  The main character is shown only occasionally, at those times when he does something other than simply ride the motorcycle, and the reader isn’t really given a lot of reasons to like him, but that is part of the story, too.  It’s not about the character, it’s about the trip.

Adults or mature teens who want a story that’s halfway between Seinfeld and Jack Kerouac will find a quiet, interesting story with little drama and a lot of snippets of people and their stories.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.