This story of a middle-aged woman's odyssey down the Mississippi River is a funny, beautifully written, and poignant tale of a journey that transforms a life
In fall 2005 acclaimed travel writer Mary Morris set off down the Mississippi in a battered old houseboat called the River Queen, with two river rats named Tom and Jerry—and a rat terrier, named Samantha Jean, who hated her. It was a time of emotional turmoil for Morris. Her father had just died; her daughter was leaving home; life was changing all around her. It was then she decided to return to the Midwest where she was from, to the river she remembered, where her father had played jazz piano in tiny towns.
Morris describes living like a pirate and surviving a tornado. Because of Katrina, oil prices, and drought, the river was often empty—a ghost river—and Morris experienced it as Joliet and Marquette had four hundred years earlier. As she learned to pilot her beloved River Queen without running aground and made peace with Samantha Jean, Morris got her groove back, reconnecting to her past. More important, she came away with her best book, a bittersweet travel tale told in the very real voice of a smart, sad, funny, gutsy, and absolutely appealing woman.
|Publisher:||Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.|
|File size:||355 KB|
About the Author
Mary Morris is the author of three other travel memoirs, each one representing a different moment in her life: Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone (0-312-19941-4), Wall to Wall, and Angels and Aliens. She is also the author of six novels and three collections of short stories. When she is not traveling and writing, Morris is on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College where she teaches creative writing. The recipient of the Rome Prize in Literature, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Mary Morris is the author of twelve books (including Acts of God, The Night Sky, and House Arrest), three collections of short stories, including The Lifeguard, and three travel memoirs, including Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone and Angels&Aliens: A Journey West (all available from Picador). Her numerous short stories and travel essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, and Vogue. The recipient of the Rome Prize, Morris teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In her memoir, The River Queen, Mary Morris takes her readers on a unique journey down the mighty Mississippi as she makes a private journey of her own¿coming to terms with her father¿s passing. Her naïveté is refreshing, and she admits early in the book, ¿I don¿t have the river in my head, yet.¿ Unlike the writer¿s friend, who never thought about the river despite growing up in St. Louis, I grew up twenty miles southeast of St. Louis, and the river has been a large presence in my life. Like many Midwesterners, I have traveled the river and visited some of the places Morris describes. By the book¿s end, Morris has changed. She has learned things about her father¿s life and about herself, contentment evident as she pilots the last leg of her journey with the river firmly fixed in her head. I agree with T.S. Eliot, ¿The sea is around us, but the river is in us.¿ Reading Morris¿s memoir will put a little of the river in every reader.
In Brooklyn, travel author Mary Morris was mourning the death of her father as her daughter was going off to college when she decided the walls of her empty nest abode was increasing her anxiety caused by these recent reminders of her mortality. The travelogue writer needed something different to occupy her middle age thoughts as pictures from the 1920s of her father makes her feel she must do something to honor his memory and to get her out of the doldrums. She hires a Mississippi River houseboat the River Queen owned by Captain Jerry to take her down the great river starting in Wisconsin with plans to reach Hannibal, Missouri home of Twain and her dad, who told her and her brother many river tales.------------- The memoir is at its best when Ms. Morris observes the ¿mallization¿ of the river towns that make places like Dubuque different than what she describes in her dad¿s vivid images and metaphors. Also fun is when Jerry teaches her how to steer their vessel though she is not a grade A student. When Ms. Morris goes introspective the travelogue turns muddier than the Mighty Mississippi especially when she rages about her dislikes. Still this is a fine memoir that is entertaining when Ms. Morris brings to life the changing upper river basin especially in the latter half of the journey as if the river eventually cleansed the visitor¿s hurting soul.------------ Harriet Klausner
As a person who loves the Mississippi River, I was looking forward to reading River Queen. I was also interested in the author's personal journey and reflections on her family's life. Now, over half way through the book, I'm not sure I'll finish it. The writing is disjointed; the author a constant critic of small towns and the Midwest; in fact, there's not much she doesn't criticize and complain about. A previous review says by the end of her trip she's changed. I hope it's for the better. I just don't know if I'm willing to invest the time and emotions to find out.