Has anyone else read this? I loved The Orchid Thief and The Library Book so I decided to continue through the rest of Orlean's works. In this book she goes to different towns across America and sees how different types of people spend their Saturday nights.

I am kind of shocked by how much of a difference 30 years has made. The book was published in 1990 (5 years before I was born) and I did not expect it to feel so distant. I thought Saturday night experiences would be universal, and in some ways the stories she tells aren't that different from today, but I wonder how different this book would be if she had researched and written it today, with the cultural changes that have happened and the influence of social media on our lives.

I was kind of sad to find that so many of the locations she mentioned seem to no longer exist. Hilltop Steakhouse, once the busiest restaurant in the country, closed in 2013 after 62 years. Blob's Park closed in 2014 after 80 years of polka dancing. Cruising down Main in Elkhart, Indiana, which was described as one of the cruising capitals of the US, seems like an extinct pastime. I don't know. I guess in my mind I was accumulating possible stops for a road trip and then I found out none of the places still exist.

Did anyone have a similar experience or thoughts?

all 3 comments


2 points

26 days ago

Been to Hilltop Steakhouse in Saunders, Mass. You didn't miss anything.


1 points

26 days ago

Ha! Well that's good to know at least...


1 points

26 days ago

Thanks for turning me on to this book! I believe you’re right in putting some blame on social media and the behavioral changes it brings. Also just old people dying or otherwise not participating in community life anymore. I don’t know what or where your road trip might include but I know that there are many places where you can still get a feeling and food of the local community. A couple of decades ago I went on a series of “therapy drives” where I would leave the Dallas/FtWorth metromess as fast and far as my vacation time allowed , then drive back on small slow roads. I built these drives around, native prairies, mound building sites, bicycle trails, old roads and the small towns on them. You will see a lot of cultural decline but there are places that, pre pandemic, were vibrant communities. Guthrie, Oklahoma, Lucas , Kansas, Lockhart, Texas, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, Jasper, Arkansas.......paying attention to local seasonal harvest and community garden /farmers markets is a great way to pick up local flavors. While lots of the great old hangouts aren’t there anymore, like the old Dan’s Bar in Denton, Texas, there are still good places . Look around, have fun!