Roads to Quoz

Roads to Quoz by William Least Heat-Moon    

A quarter-century after his now classic record of a trip down America's two-laners, Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon is back in the driver's seat. And though he's given up sleeping in his '75 Ford Econoline for places more along the lines of a Holiday Inn Express, he's still a helluva road-tripper. In Roads to Quoz, Heat-Moon not only stops at every historical marker; he devotes entire chapters to them—and to weedy spaces bereft of any markers at all. He chats with mural painters in Arkansas and railroad cyclists in Idaho; in Bloomington, Indiana, he meets the keeper of Jack Kerouac's original manuscript for On the Road. "As best I can figure it," he writes, "my job is to go out and get stories and to pass them along as far as they can carry themselves." His cross-country search for "quoz"—an archaic word, he says, for something "strange, incongruous, or peculiar"—gives him "a reason to get out of bed and step into the shower and wake up and once again take up a quest." Those quests are meandering, and his narrative is discursive, but Heat-Moon is a skilled enough writer that you're willing to curl up in the backseat and enjoy the ride. (LITTLE, BROWN, $28)

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