Monday, February 16, 2009

Roads to Quoz

An American Mosey
William Least Heat Moon

William Least Heat Moon is best known for his travel journals Blue Highways and River Horse. This newest book, which came out in 2008, is sewn together from his notes from years of visits to various places in the United States. It lacks the coherence of the others, because it is not the narrative of a single purposeful, or even purposeless journey. Nevertheless it is an enjoyable read from the millennial era's answer to Charles Kuralt. It is perfect for inducing Spring fever.

Quoz is a made-up word which Heat Moon defines as: Anything, anywhere. living or otherwise, connecting a human to existence and bringing an individual into the cosmos and integrating one with the immemorial, thereby making each life belong to creation, and so preventing the divorce of one from the all which brought it into being.

Heat Moon is blowing smoke up out collective skirts with this fancy definition of his fancy word. Suffice it to say that he likes odd and interesting stuff, especially if it's old. He is able to tease a story out of each discovery.

If I have any criticism of Roads to Quoz beyond it's scattershot nature it would be Heat Moon's attempt to make much out of the letter Q. His wife is known in the book as Q, rather than her name, and he makes up more than a few words which start with that letter and showers the reader with them and other Q words more grounded in the English language. By the end of chapter one this rhetorical flurry settles down to a drizzle however and it didn't kill my enjoyment of the book.

Heat Moon and Q meet many interesting people in Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, Northeast Pennsylvania, the Florida Panhandle, New Hampshire and I've probably left out a few more places. oh yes, the intercoastal waterway starting in Baltimore and going all the way down to Florida. I think that the intercoastal could have made a book by itself if he had done it in River Horse and not as a passenger on a commercial vessel. Next time, maybe.


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