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Roads to Quoz (CD): An American Mosey Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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"Narrator Sherman Howard perfectly delivers the author's saunter through the states. Howard's untroubled, unhurried exposition allows the listener to bask in the splendid descriptions (sometimes overdone) descriptions of 'all things Quoz-things strange, incongrous, or peculiar"It's like sitting on Grandpa's knee or hearing the ghost of Charles Kuralt exulting in all the wonderful tiny things that make up the fabric of America."
From the bestselling author of Blue Highways, another classic journey into AmericaSee all Product description
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"Mosey", he tells us, derives from the Spanish "vamos". The discursive narrative has snippets of autobiography. He has once been a doctoral student in English literature. He meditates on words like "absquatulate" and "shinplaster", a term for worthless money. Moonshine is also known as white lightning, bottled-in-the-barn booze or Ozark nose paint. He himself is on a forty-eight month deacquisition plan. He wants to rid himself of one item, large or small, each and every day.
The second key is the author's age. He has reached that time in life where he is relaxed in himself, where he does not need to prove himself. "As travellers age" he writes "we carry along ever more journeys, especially when we cross through a remembered terrain where we become wayfarers in time as well as space, where physical landscapes get infused with temporal ones."
As in his previous books Heat-Moon knows his American history inside out. Audubon, Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, Eli Lilley all feature. It is a very different America from the high-pressure urban backdrop of film and news. Contemporary reference is scattered about but thinly. He sees a saloon with a sign "HIPPIES ENTER BY SIDE DOOR". He makes reference to a Negro part of town. What he calls the Babylonian war is costing three billion a week; that could make good a lot of worn infrastructure.
South of Charleston SC he encounters a water-land with names like Toogoodoo, Wadmalaw, Ashepoo and Coosaw. The anti-modernity of his prose leans at moments to the precious. In earlier life his livelihoods have included "delivering newspapers in the wee hours". He addresses direct the "perdurable reader" or "nimble reader (who are so often ahead of me)". "Roads to Quoz" is probably one for Heat-Moon familiars. If he is new to you sample "Blue Highways" or "River Horse" first.
WLHM has a knack of writing about places in a way that makes me want to visit if not the exact same destinations, then at least an opolis in the right direction..just over there.. Great stuff. I don't know how long until his next book will be published but I hope it's not too long a wait.
From cycling down disused railway tracks to uncovering outrageous miscarriages of justice, Heat-Moon never disappoints.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
My wife & I are road warriors, over the years we have been to & driving in very state as well as most of Canada. We still enjoy road trips and books like Blue Highways and Travels with Charley resonate extremely well with us,
I mentioned this to Doc and stated he would enjoy “Blue Highways” and I planned on rereading both Travels with Charley & Blue Highways upon our return home.
While searching for Blue Highways on Amazon I came across Roads to Quoz. I will echo the comments of the others who rated the book two stars. I was very disappointed and have stopped reading it at this time and also glad I did not buy the hardbound version. A lot of mumble jumble in the first three chapters, word games at best, wasted space at the worst.
This book was not in the same class as Blue Highway nor River Horse, both of which I would give 5 stars. Not Quoz, maybe a two is overrating the book.
As a side note Doc did obtain Blue Highways and emailed me that it was as good, or better than, I had stated.
In "Blue Highways," we travelled the by-ways around the perimeter of our country; in "PrairyErth," Least Heat-Moon drilled down, down, down through time in the Kansas county at the center of the United States. "Riverhorse" took us by water, mostly with Lewis and Clark, across our country. Each book has a unity, illuminated by the author's compassion for what Gerard Manley Hopkins calls "...all things counter, spare, original." Each, particularly "Blue Highways," is written with such heart, with such simplicity,and with words so beautifully put together, reading aloud feels as natural as breathing.
"Blue Highways" became a part of travelling in America. Like many others, I wanted very much to like the fourth book, but have found it a bit of work to do so. A few concerns are given first, then praise for this wizard of quoz and his book.
First, rarely are our children's sayings as adorable as we may think. A quote here and there can be OK, but pages & pages with them can be flinch-making. Least Heat-Moon, in "The Roads to Quoz" has married his third wife, described as a slender golden-haired young woman so beautiful she stops conversations as she enters a room, with whom he seems enchanted if not besotted. Said to be brilliant, too, a lawyer and historian. "The Road to Quoz" has many of what Least Heat-Moon considers her irresistably wise, witty comments such as (in connection with tourists leaving autographed bills), "Maybe it's a new authenticity beginning."
Second, it is good indeed that the author's compassionate interest in we, the people, our doings, and our home-towns still shines here and there and there. One instance is the lovely chapter on Jean Shirer Ingold, an American original living Thoreau-like near Almogordo. However, there are some not-so-good sections. One instance is the 8 chapter, 60 page inquiry into the 1900s murder of his great-greatgrand father and his grandmother's suicide. Sadly, in the 10 chapter section on his cruise down the Inland Passage from Baltimore to Florida, there doesn't seem much freshness or savor left in his world, only angers.
Yet there is much to enjoy. The book is organized around many shortish road trips Least Heat-Moon took with Q, re-visitng his past, entertaining her with family stories, & finding some new places and people. There are in each of the six main sections (Southwest, Southeast, and so on) about 20 brief chapters of 5 to 10 pages. (The number of stories is considerably less than the number of chapters. Sometimes, a story such as that about James Canary, curator of one of the scroll manuscripts of Kerouac's "On the Road," involves two chapters. Ditto the story of the remarkable Frank Xavier Brusca, photographer and historian of US Highway 40.)
Many of these vignettes have a spontaneity, a feeling of a moseyness & quoziness that is here, there, everywhere if we could see it. Examples include Canary and Brusca, and his re-telling of the history of the Great Mound. Here the topic brings out simply & eloquently Least Heat-Moon's deep respect for his Native American heritage, and sorrow at its losses.
"The Roads to Quoz" offers some memorable journeys with a man who can still be a very good companion. It is, perhaps, best read as if we're sitting in Swamp Guinea's place, no rush, plenty of iced tea and home-cooked food, listening to a story teller we have come to love over his lifetime and ours, following whatever comes into his mind. Some tales in such a time will be not so well-told and some, even many, will be fine indeed.
Overall, then, three to four stars.
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