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Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey Hardcover – October 29, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316110256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316110259
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It was almost a decade ago that Least Heat-Moon (Blue Highways) followed the trail of Lewis and Clark in River Horse; in the first section of his latest peripatetic writings, he and his wife, Q, trace the lesser-known Dunbar-Hunter Expedition of 1804 through the southern half of the Louisiana Purchase, searching out the head of the Ouachita River in Arkansas. Least Heat-Moon's fans will find this territory, and that covered in the five other journeys to places a goodly portion of the American populace would call 'nowhere,' instantly familiar, as he and various companions take digressive paths from one small opolis (where anything metro was clearly missing) to the next in search of quoz (an 18th-century word meaning anything out of the ordinary). Among his many adventures, Least Heat-Moon rides a bicycle along an abandoned railroad track, discovers a road to nowherebuilt by a Florida county so local drug smugglers would have a landing strip, and comes up with what he believes is the real story behind the murder of his great-grandfather. Or maybe the highlights of these journeys are the people he meets along the way and their stories, like the man who tried to fund a school for disadvantaged children by providing lonely widows with special massages, or the artist who's turned his cabin into a walk-in kaleidoscope. Either way, few readers will be able to resist tagging along. (Oct. 29)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Heat-Moon’s love for back roads, buried history, mesmerizing stories, and colorful language launched a life of inquisitive travels and meticulous writing. In his fifth book, this attentive listener and observer and sly wit in the mode of Twain reports on his quest for quoz, that is, “anything strange, incongruous, or peculiar.” Accompanied by his smart, funny lawyer-historian wife, Q, Heat-Moon follows the 1804 trail of William Dunbar and George Hunter on the “forgotten” Jeffersonian mission along the Ouachita River through Arkansas and Louisiana. Amidst hilarious commentary on road food and uncharismatic small towns, Heat-Moon continues on to Florida, Maine, New Mexico, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas, writing vividly and insightfully about diverse and quirky places. But it is the people he meets, or resurrects, that give this spellbinding and immensely satisfying book its soul. From freethinker William Grayson, shot down on the street in Joplin, Missouri, in 1901 (Heat-Moon finally solves the case) to artist Indigo Rocket, a “wizard of quoz”; Jean Ingold, whose “carbon footprint was that of a cat”; conservator James Canary, guardian of Kerouac’s On the Road scroll; Glenn Gore, who is dedicated to photographing “every mile” of the Ouachita; and Frank Xavier Brusca, who is doing the same for U.S. Highway 40. Natural, national, and personal history converge in this resplendent “mosey,” an inspiriting antidote to hurry and a profound tribute to this good land and its people. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

William Trogdon, who writes under the name of William Least Heat-Moon, was born of English-Irish-Osage ancestry in Kansas City, Missouri. He holds a bachelor's degree in photojournalism and a doctorate in English from the University of Missouri. He is the author of Blue Highways; Prairyerth, an epic evocation of the American tallgrass prairie country; and River-Horse, an account of his travels along America's interior waterways. His most recent book, Roads to Quoz, was published in 2008 and is available now as a trade paper edition.

Customer Reviews

I wait for his next journey.
Rapsody
"Quoz" itself is an entertaining and insightful enough read, as well as a worthy addition to the author's literary resume.
Steve
I've just read the two books, but I'm not sure the author's direction since Blue Highways suits his subject.
snowcattt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By nto62 on January 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been an avid fan of Heat-Moon's since I first picked up Blue Highways and Prairy Erth many years ago. Whether it's his melancholy wanderlust or the ability to make the commonplace come alive, William Least Heat-Moon is one of America's finest travel writers. I pre-ordered Roads to Quoz with much anticipation. It came, I read it, I let it stew, and in the end find I'm a bit underwhelmed.

It's not that the book isn't entertaining. It is. Heat-Moon once again has much to tell his audience. But, there is something naggingly absent. Roads to Quoz is a series of roundtrips that Heat-Moon makes with his wife. Gone are the solitary miles stretching before him to be replaced with hotels and eateries. It isn't a journey so much as a jaunt and Heat-Moon's prose suffers because of it.

"Q", his mono-initialled wife, is a complete enigma. She is quick with a quip, but not much else and remains indistinguishable throughout. She's a void beyond her sardonic comments. Furthermore, Heat-Moon, never shy about his politics, is so inclined to the point of repetition. Yet, those new to Heat-Moon might find this book adequately pleasing. I would challenge them to read Prairy Erth and Blue Highways. One simply can't come away thinking that Quoz compares favorably with anything previously written. 3+ stars.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Gary Gackstatter on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure there was a word for what happens to me when I read Heat-Moon's works. I find treaures in them that seem to be written just for me to find. How can that be?

"PrairyErth" was such a treasure-box; I have read it every year since it was written, each time finding something new. "Roads to Quoz" is also such a book. Its wisdom, depth and humor take you on journeys that are pure joy for the intellect and the imagination.

Heat-Moon's "roads to Quoz" cover a vast area, so I was suprised that one of his Quoz stories mentioned a tiny town in Kansas called "Otis". It is where my mother grew up. I cannot explain such crossings of paths, but at least now I have a word for them: Quoz.

This is simply a gem of a book. It looks forward and backward at the same time, giving insights along the way, and finding wonder.
Gary Gackstatter, St Louis
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By snowcattt on August 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am 50 and about to begin a chapter in my life where I too will be wandering America. I've been too busy to do much reading over the last 20 years, and Blue Highways came highly recommended. I thought it was beautiful and inspiring. I have praised Least Heat-Moon's writing style to everyone I've met since, and bought my mother a copy in an effort to share my passion for American nomadic wandering.

After a few more books, I came across Roads To Quoz and couldn't wait to dive in!
Dear God.
All the negative reviews you read about this are so true. This ain't Blue Highways. I can't even see that it's the same author. His comfortable, chummy writing style has been replaced with paragraph-long sentences full of high-reaching, glossy-eyed vocabulary. It's as if every sentence was achingly constructed to test the limits of proper English grammar. It certainly was aching to read and comprehend.

What happened Bill?
Look, I'm not opposed to batting around a few $10 words now and then, but I think I'm reading a casual account of your casual travels. Your subtitle is "An American Mosey," for christsake. This was no mosey. This was a ridiculously-overworked retelling of some rather ordinary observations. Any beauty or ugliness was lost in the transcription.
Writing for writing's sake.
Mr. smarty-pants trying to use all the big words.

I've just read the two books, but I'm not sure the author's direction since Blue Highways suits his subject. Maybe he should leave backroad America and find something more fitting of his egoist vocabulary and run-on sentences. Maybe some good ol' eighteenth century English poetry.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David W. McAllister on March 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed Blue Highways so much, I eagerly ordered Roads to Quoz on my Kindle. It was a bore from the start. I really tried to get into it but could not. I quit few books, but I didn't even get to the halfway point of this one before giving up to search for something more interesting to read.

What is especially annoying is the author's insistence on using so many words that I didn't know (and I consider myself to be well educated). I found myself using the dictionary feature on my Kindle on nearly every page. Many of his words were so obscure that they didn't even come up in the Kindle dictionary! Sadly, the author ignored the sage advice to communicators: "Write to EXpress, not to IMpress."

While certain chapters held my interest, I really struggled with most chapters and finally decided I was wasting my time with the book. I'm glad other reviewers found it enjoyable. I wish I weren't among the many who did not. At least I'm glad I didn't buy the hard cover version.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Typical Heat-Moon book. A good read if you're into meeting personally quirky people in off-the-beaten-path places, although this one seems a bit less focused than earlier works by him.

I think the book is better early on. The more it progresses, the more it seems to repeat itself - not the stories, but the overall theme. And the last section following the ICW down the East Coast seems like just a long float to nowhere. Only when he goes ashore does the author tell us about his usual assortment of interesting meet-ups.

By the way, I am not impressed with the author's attempt to astound me with his vocabulary. Why not let the diction reflect the people he meets? And the "q" thing gets a little over the top.
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