When: Fri., Sept. 24, 2 p.m. 2010
I-69 doesn’t really exist; it’s a massive and controversial highway project first proposed 20 years ago to connect the U.S. to its northern and southern neighbors. But as Matt Dellinger remarks in his book (subtitled The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway), “I-69 is remarkable — for where it doesn’t go yet but where it one day might: another fourteen hundred miles south to Mexico, through Evansville, Indiana; Paducah, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Clarksdale, Mississippi; El Dorado, Arkansas; … Houston, Texas; and on down to the border towns of Brownsville and Laredo.” The $30 billion “NAFTA highway” has drawn passionate support and opposition throughout its decades-long history. Dellinger’s book derives fascinating history by showing that roads aren’t just transportation — they’re markers of our deepest desires and beliefs about our country. And Dellinger’s prose is fired by a deep appreciation for the heartland America traversed by the ghostly hypothetical highway.
Emily Bartlett Hines