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In his previous book "Blue Highways," Heat-Moon had embarked on an American journey off the beaten path. Now, the author is back on the backroads, in this lyrical, funny, and touching account of his series of journeys into small-town America.
- ISBN-13: 0316110256
- ISBN-10: 0316110256
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Publish Date: October 2008
- Page Count: 581
Off with the wizard of quoz
As the author of four previous works of travel-writingmost notably Blue Highways and River-HorseWilliam Least Heat-Moon believes that when it comes to trip-taking, "to go out not quite knowing why is the very reason for going out at all." The wonder of discovery runs throughout his latest book, Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey.
As Heat-Moon explains, quoz is "a noun, both singular and plural, referring to anything strange, incongruous, or peculiar; at its heart is the unknown, the mysterious. It rhymes with Oz." With his wife, Q, Heat-Moon travels the U.S. in search of it. They trace the bends of the Ouachita Riverall 600 miles of itfrom its source in Arkansas to its windings in Mississippi and its eventual end in Louisiana; venture to the Gulf Coast and Steinhatchee, Florida; visit Joplin, Missouri, and Quapaw, Oklahoma; take to the road in Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Idaho, North Carolina and many more places.
They uncover storieslots of them. There's elderly Mrs. Weatherford and her tale of Northern Light rapture, Indigo Rocket and a 50-foot femme fatale, the mysterious Goat Woman of Smackover Creek. Jack Kerouac and his 120-foot scroll of a manuscript make an appearance, as do the Gullah people of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. There's even a recipe for pickle pie. "These wanderings," Heat-Moon writes, "took three years and four seasons to accomplish their sixteen thousand miles of journeys to places a goodly portion of the American populace would call 'nowhere.'Ê"
Heat-Moon is a writer compelled to "stop and hunt stories," and wisdom and humor mark his work. As he travels the back roads of America, visiting one rural hamlet after another, he takes the reader on a lyrical, narrative journey full of mystery and awe. "A genuine road book," Heat-Moon writes, "should open unknown realms in its words as it does in its miles. If you leave a journey exactly who you were before you departed, the trip has been much wasted, even if it's just down to the quiky mart."
Lacey Galbraith is a writer in Nashville.