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Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads. William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi." His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation of the true American experience.
William Least Heat-Moon's journey into America began with little more than the need to put home behind him. At a turning point in his life, he packed up a van he called Ghost Dancing and escaped out of himself and into the country. The people and the places he discovered on his roundabout 13,000-mile trip down the back roads ("blue highways") and through small, forgotten towns are unexpected, sometimes mysterious, and full of the spark and wonder of ordinary life. Robert Penn Warren said, "He has a genius for finding people who have not even found themselves. " The power of Heat-Moon's writing and his delight in the overlooked and the unexamined capture a sense of our national destiny, the true American experience.
HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE draws together for the first time William Least Heat-Moon's greatest short-form travel writing. Taking us from Japan, England, Italy, and Mexico to Long Island, Oregon, Arizona, and more, HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE is a sharply observed, funny, and touching series of uncommon adventures narrated by America's keenest writer of place, people, and sublime connection.For decades, William Least Heat-Moon's readers have been clamoring for him to gather his shorter pieces; now, that wait is over. A perfect treasury of prose and wry provocation for readers old and new, HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE is further confirmation of Least Heat-Moon's status as an American master.
Three months on the New York Times bestseller list, PrairyErth is now in paperback. Robert Penn Warren pronounced Heat-Moon's Blue Highways "a masterpiece." Now Heat-Moon has pulled to the side of the road and set off on foot to take readers on an exploration of time and space, landscape and history in the Flint Hills of central Kansas.
(from flaps) PrairyErth is a vigorous and exalted evocation of the American land, its people, its past, its hopes. The very word "prairyerth," an old geologic term for the soils of our central grasslands, captures the essence of the American tall- grass country. Only a writer of William Least Heat-Moon's gifts could find in a single Kansas county the narrative of an epic, the nonfiction equivalent of the great American novel. Robert Penn Warren pronounced Heat-Moon's Blue Highways "a masterpiece ... a magnificent and unique tour." That best-selling book described a 13,000-mile, 38-state automobile journey into America. Now Heat-Moon has pulled to the side of the road and set off on foot. Instead of traveling endless miles, he takes us on an exploration of time and space, landscape and history, in one fragment of the Great Plains. Most American readers know three things about Kansas: it is flat, it has something to do with The Wizard of Oz, and the events of In Cold Blood took place there. Three illusions: the first is a lie, the second a fairy tale, the third a nightmare. Chase County is, however, a sparsely populated tract in the Flint Hills of central Kansas, "the last remaining grand expanse of tallgrass prairie in America," and PrairyErth lovingly details its 744 square miles and 3,000 souls till it looms as large as the universe while remaining as intimate as a village. PrairyErth is rich with Chase County's voices past and present, and is filled with anecdotes, gossip from its bars and cafes, Native American lore, and rueful tales of man's inhumanity to man and nature and of nature's indifference to humanity. Heat-Moon recounts the story of a farm couple swept aloft "by a tornado; reveals an Indian recipe to avert lightning; unearths a century-old unsolved murder; interviews a retired postmistress, a cowboy, a quarryman, a coyote hunter, a young feminist rancher. PrairyErth sets the story of a nineteenth- century tycoon, who dreamed of building a rail line to China through the county, against the memories of a retired Mexican railroad worker who can still recall every tie he spiked for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. It speaks of the passion of the slavery wars of Bleeding Kansas and the sad fate of the Kaw tribe, and gives us a hundred new ways to see stones, creeks, grasses, birds, beasts, and weather. Each of the book's vivid and evocative chapters is totally unexpected, yet "unexpected Kansas must be sought in its remoteness, a place you find only with effort." The millions who have read Blue Highway,), and those who have yet to encounter the genius of William Least Heat-Moon's writing, will find that he is one of those rare modern writers who can change forever the way we see ourselves and our country.
In RIVER-HORSE, the preeminent chronicler of American back roads -- who has given us the classics BLUE HIGHWAYS and PRAIRYERTH -- recounts his singular voyage on American waters from sea to sea. Along the route, he offers a lyrical and ceaselessly fascinating shipboard perspective on the country's rivers, lakes, canals, and towns. Brimming with history, drama, humor, and wisdom, RIVER-HORSE belongs in the pantheon of American travel literature. In his most ambitious journey ever, Heat-Moon sets off aboard a small boat he named Nikawa ("river horse" in Osage) from the Atlantic at New York Harbor in hopes of entering the Pacific near Astoria, Oregon. He and his companion, Pilotis, struggle to cover some five thousand watery miles -- more than any other cross-country river traveler has ever managed -- often following in the wakes of our most famous explorers, from Henry Hudson to Lewis and Clark. En route, the voyagers confront massive floods, submerged rocks, dangerous weather, and their own doubts about whether they can complete the trip. But the hard days yield up incomparable pleasures: strangers generous with help and eccentric tales, landscapes unchanged since Sacagawea saw them, riverscapes flowing with a lively past, and the growing belief that efforts to protect our lands and waters are beginning to pay off. And, throughout its course, the expedition enjoys coincidences so breathtaking as to suggest the intervention of a divine and witty Providence. Teeming with humanity and high adventure, Heat-Moon's account is an unsentimental and original arteriogram of our nation at the edge of the millennium. Masterly in its own right, RIVER-HORSE, when taken with BLUE HIGHWAYS and PRAIRYERTH, forms the capstone of a peerless and timeless trilogy.
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.
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