Roads to where?
Quoz - n. - referring to anything strange, incongruous or peculiar, at it's heart is the unknown, the mysterious. Rhymes with Oz.
I've had this book for a little bit now, but it isn't one you want to race through at all. It's a fairly hefty book at 550 pages plus, but you need to stop and savour each and every tale.
William Least Heat-Moon landed on the New York Times bestseller list in the early 80's with his first book Blue Highways. Heat-Moon had lost both his job and his wife and decided to travel the back roads of America to see who he would meet and what he would find.
Heat-Moon is discovering hidden gems again with his female companion, Q, in Roads to Quoz - An American Mosey from Hachette Books.
"If you leave a journey exactly who you were before you departed, the trip has been much wasted, even if it's just to the Quickee-Mart."
This journey begins in Arkansas following the path of the Ouachita River. Heat-Moon's inherent curiosity about anything and everything is infectious. What are the origins of such placenames as Smackover, Hog Jaw and Possum Grape? I drove through a small town I'd never been to before the other day and found myself wondering how it came to be named Harmony. That's the captivating thing about Roads to Quoz - once you read of Heat-Moon's travels and interactions you look at things just a little bit differently - and from my point of view, that's a good thing.
This book covers a series of trips taken to various states. The history of each town or place is discussed in fascinating detail. But it is the human stories that captured me the most. Meeting Jean Ingold, with whom he has corresponded by letter for many years. Jean lives in a home of 117 sq.ft. She supports herself minimally, restricting her carbon footprint as much as possible. Her philosophy of life is engrossing. Travelling to the town where his great grandfather was murdered. The Goat Woman of Smackover Creek, who lived for fifty years in a 6x20 travelling medicine show truck. Meeting the caretaker of Jack Kerouac's original scroll manuscript of On The Road. The everyday people who stop in a diner and share part of their lives with him. There are numerous other stories, all equally compelling.
How does he find these tales? He opens himself to 'letting himself be found.' Heat-Moon's gift is his view of life and the ability to put to paper and share his curiousity.
I haven't read Blue Highways, but will be seeking it out after reading this book. And taking the lesser travelled road a little more....