Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey

Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey

3.6 12
by William Least Heat-Moon, Sherman Howard
     
 

About a quarter century ago, a previously unknown writer named William Least Heat-Moon wrote a book called Blue Highways. Acclaimed as a classic, it was a travel book like no other. Quirky, discursive, endlessly curious, Heat-Moon had embarked on an American journey off the beaten path. Sticking to the small places via the small roads—those colored blue

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Overview

About a quarter century ago, a previously unknown writer named William Least Heat-Moon wrote a book called Blue Highways. Acclaimed as a classic, it was a travel book like no other. Quirky, discursive, endlessly curious, Heat-Moon had embarked on an American journey off the beaten path. Sticking to the small places via the small roads—those colored blue on maps—he uncovered a nation deep in character, story, and charm.
Now, for the first time since Blue Highways, Heat-Moon is back on the backroads. ROADS TO QUOZ is his lyrical, funny, and touching account of a series of American journeys into small-town America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

It was almost a decade ago that Least Heat-Moon (Blue Highways) followed the trail of Lewis and Clark in River Horse; in the first section of his latest peripatetic writings, he and his wife, Q, trace the lesser-known Dunbar-Hunter Expedition of 1804 through the southern half of the Louisiana Purchase, searching out the head of the Ouachita River in Arkansas. Least Heat-Moon's fans will find this territory, and that covered in the five other "journeys to places a goodly portion of the American populace would call 'nowhere,' " instantly familiar, as he and various companions take digressive paths from one small opolis ("where anything metro was clearly missing") to the next in search of "quoz" (an 18th-century word meaning "anything out of the ordinary"). Among his many adventures, Least Heat-Moon rides a bicycle along an abandoned railroad track, discovers a "road to nowhere"built by a Florida county so local drug smugglers would have a landing strip, and comes up with what he believes is the real story behind the murder of his great-grandfather. Or maybe the highlights of these journeys are the people he meets along the way and their stories, like the man who tried to fund a school for disadvantaged children by providing lonely widows with special massages, or the artist who's turned his cabin into a walk-in kaleidoscope. Either way, few readers will be able to resist tagging along. (Oct. 29)

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Library Journal

Heat-Moon (née William Trogdon) has been a chronicler of small-town America since his Blue Highways: A Journey into America(1982). He has a gift for seeing beauty and mystery in even the remotest areas of the country. In his new book, he and his wife, Jo Ann (who refers to herself as "Q"), set out to explore the Ouachita River, which begins in Mena, AK, and ends in Louisiana. The reason for this journey is as fascinating as the book itself: Thomas Jefferson is famous for initiating the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but few people know of the Dunbar-Hunter Expedition of 1804, referred to by Jefferson as second only to Lewis and Clark's in importance. After discovering Hunter's Journal of an Excursion From Natchez on the Mississippi Up the River Ouachita, he and Q set out to see this largely still remote area of the South. Along the way, they ruminate on Grapette, Jesus Trees, the Goat Woman of Smackover Creek, the Quapaw Ghost Light-as you can see, this is not your typical travel guide. Heat-Moon's journey is as meandering as the Ouachita itself, and readers will relish the experiences he and Q describe along their trip. He has not lost his skills in painting unforgettable portraits of places and people few of us will ever encounter. And, yes, "Quoz" is a word, and its definition sums up the reason for recommending this book to all libraries: "strange, incongruous, unknown, and mysterious."
—Joseph L. Carlson

Kirkus Reviews
An amiable, literate tour of America's byways, in the company of the poet laureate of the back road. Heat-Moon (River-Horse, 1999, etc.), as if channeling Kerouac, whom he writes about here at some length, announces early on a rationale for his wanderings and writings over the last quarter-century or so: "to break those long silent miles, I must stop and hunt stories and only later set down my gatherings in order to release them one day to wander on their own." In this instance, grown suddenly fond of the letter Q, he ponders the word quoz ("rhymes with Oz"), a quizzical, questioning quest in search of who knows what, so long as it's wonderful. So he heads at first west by way of the wondrous Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, which are really ancient worn-down hills separated by a broad valley full of colorful characters, some with teeth, some with stills. Heat-Moon, naturally enough, turns to suitable pondering, reflecting that many years before he had found himself "wondering how many people I'd meet if I lived to be four score and ten," and reckoning that the total might be 100,000, almost all of them pleasant "or at least neutral" encounters. Here, as the author steers into the dark hearts of Maine, Pennsylvania, Idaho, New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida and other corners of this wide land, he turns up plenty of nice folk who serve him fried chicken, scrod or tacos and tell him tales of their lives. Heat-Moon's travels have a Steinbeckian air, but with a decidedly countercultural twist, as when he pronounces, "To live more otherly is to live more lastingly. It's a fundamental law of biology."Residents of states not mentioned will surely wish that Heat-Moon's quozzical travels had taken himthere as well-a pleasure for his fans, who are deservingly many.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781600244896
Publisher:
Hachette Audio
Publication date:
10/29/2008
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 5.14(h) x 2.16(d)

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