The memoirs of a journey on the back roads of America.
The memoirs of a journey on the back roads of America.
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.
The story behind the writing of the best-selling Blue Highways is as fascinating as the epic trip itself. More than thirty years after his 14,000-mile, 38-state journey, William Least Heat-Moon reflects on the four years he spent capturing the lessons of the road trip on paper—the stops and starts in his composition process, the numerous drafts and painstaking revisions, the depressing string of rejections by publishers, the strains on his personal relationships, and many other aspects of the toil that went into writing his first book. Along the way, he traces the hard lessons learned and offers guidance to aspiring and experienced writers alike. Far from being a technical manual, Writing Blue Highways: The Story of How a Book Happenedis an adventure story of its own, a journey of “exploration into the myriad routes of heart and mind that led to the making of a book from the first sorry and now vanished paragraph to the last words that came not from a graphite pencil but from a letterpress in Tennessee.” Readers will not find a collection of abstract formulations and rules for writing; rather, this book gracefully incorporates examples from Heat-Moon’s own experience. As he explains, “This story might be termed an inadvertent autobiography written not by the traveler who took Ghost Dancing in 1978 over the byroads of America but by a man only listening to him. That blue-roadman hasn’t been seen in more than a third of a century, and over the last many weeks as I sketched in these pages, I’ve regretted his inevitable departure.” Filtered as the struggles of the “blue-roadman” are through the awareness of someone more than thirty years older with a half dozen subsequent books to his credit, the story of how his first book “happened” is all the more resonant for readers who may not themselves be writers but who are interested in the tricky balance of intuitive creation and self-discipline required for any artistic endeavor.
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 the acclaimed author of Blue Highways, PrairyErth, and Roads to Quoz, a dazzling collection of travel tales from the road. HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE draws together for the first time William Least Heat-Moon's greatest short-form travel writing. Personally selected by the writer, these pieces take us from Japan, England, Italy, and Mexico to Long Island, Oregon, Arizona, from small towns to big cities, ocean shores and inland mysteries. Including Heat-Moon's reflections on writing these pieces, HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE is much more than the usual collection of amber; it is a coupled summation of craft and memory. A perfect treasury of prose and provocation for readers old and new, Heat-Moon's most recent work reveals his absolute mastery across pages many and few.
In The Longest Road, one of America's most respected writers takes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and asks everyday Americans what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large. Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he'd drive from the nation's southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question. So it was that in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as "Fred" and "Ethel") from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today's United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.
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.
The author chronicles his journey across America's waterways in his dory Nikawa (River Horse), encountering strange people, hostile cities, and hair-raising dangers.
When Silas Fortunato applies for an editorial position for the "spirituality” section of a local newspaper, he is asked to fill in a bubble sheet to mark his religion. The problem is, his beliefs don’t fall within any of the categories. Silas believes that selflessness enlarges vision and that what a person should strive for is to be overcome by the beyond. He believes in honoring otherness and in giving questions credence over certainty. He calls himself a Cosmoterian because his goal is to make himself worthy of the majesty of Cosmos. Silas is a man driven by big ideas, but it is the everyday smallness that perpetually both intrigues and eludes him. In this emotional tale of haunted love, Silas finds himself locked in a marriage descending toward darkness until the arrival of his sister-in-law and soon thereafter the appearance of a witching neighbor who may or may not be alive. In ways enigmatic, ghostly, and funny, the three women draw him into the equivocal nature of dreams and reality, their influences leading Silas on a journey toward what may be light and a new belonging to something vastly beyond himself. Just as William Least Heat-Moon’s nonfiction employs many fictional narrative techniques, Celestial Mechanics draws upon nonfictional devices to build a story that crosses traditional boundaries between the two. Celestial Mechanics is the clarion call of a generation that believes rationality and spirituality can--and should--coexist, a generation defined by globalization, where the only things left unknown are what is within and beyond us, those cosmic realms revealed by the telescope and the quantum world suggested by the microscope. This book is for those of us steeped in a hustle-and-bustle world we can’t escape, who believe that practices like mindfulness and rational deduction and childlike wonder are the keys to the kind of fulfillment that the commercial aspects of our lives can never hope to address.
In 1960, when he was almost sixty years old, John Steinbeck set out to rediscover his native land. He felt that he might have lost touch with its sights, sounds and the essence of its people. Accompanied only by his dog, Charley, he travelled all across the United States in a pick-up truck. His journey took him through almost forty states, and he saw things that made him proud, angry, sympathetic and elated. All that he saw and experienced is described with remarkable honesty and insight. Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. During the 1930s, his works included The Red Pony, Pastures of Heaven, Tortilla Flat, In Dubious Battle, and Of Mice and Men. The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, earned him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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.
A stirring tale of adventure and tragedy "They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and javelins and other little things that it would be tiresome to write down, and they gave everything for anything that was given to them. I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold." With these portentous words, Christopher Columbus described one of his first encounters with Native Americans on the island of Guanahani, which he had named San Salvador and claimed for Spain the day before. In Columbus in the Americas, bestselling author William Least Heat-Moon reveals that Columbus's subsequent dealings with the cultures he encountered not only did considerable immediate harm, but also set the pattern of behavior for those who followed him. Based on the logbook of Columbus and numerous other firsthand accounts of his four voyages to the New World, this vividly detailed history also examines the strengths and weaknesses of Columbus as a navigator, explorer, and leader. It recounts dramatic events such as the destruction of Fortress Navidad, the very first European settlement in the New World; a pitched battle in northern Panama with the native Guaymi people; and an agonizing year Columbus and his men spent marooned on a narrow spit of land in southern Jamaica. Filled with stories of triumph and tragedy, courage and villainy, Columbus in the Americas offers a balanced yet unflinching portrait of the most famous and controversial explorer in history. TURNING POINTS features preeminent writers offering fresh, personal perspectives on the defining events of our time.
A San Francisco radio host grown tired of media stereotypes, Rose Aguilar packed up her van, picked up her boyfriend, and set out on a six-month road trip through the red-state West to find out what voters there really care about. Equal parts travelogue, political reportage, and personal discovery, RED HIGHWAYS challenges conventional wisdom and calls for a more thoughtful and productive dialogue between Red and Blue America.
"ninety percent of who you are is invisible." Amedeo Kaplan seems just like any other new kid who has moved into the town of St. Malo, Florida, a navy town where new faces are the norm. But Amedeo has a secret, a dream: More than anything in the world, he wants to discover something -- a place, a process, even a fossil -- some treasure that no one realizes is there until he finds it. And he would also like to discover a true friend to share these things with. William Wilcox seems like an unlikely candidate for friendship: an aloof boy who is all edges and who owns silence the way other people own words. When Amedeo and William find themselves working together on a house sale for Amedeo's eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Zender, Amedeo has an inkling that both his wishes may come true. For Mrs. Zender's mansion is crammed with memorabilia of her long life, and there is a story to go with every piece. Soon the boys find themselves caught up in one particular story -- a story that links a sketch, a young boy's life, an old man's reminiscence, and a painful secret dating back to the outrages of Nazi Germany. It's a story that will take them to the edge of what they know about heroism and the mystery of the human heart. Two-time Newbery winner E. L. Konigsburg spins a magnificent tale of art, discovery, friendship, history, and truth.
Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey -- a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country. "I started out searching for myself and my country," Peter Jenkins writes, "and found both." In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago -- from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day -- and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.