As the author of four previous works of travel - writing - most notably Blue Highways and River - Horse - William Least Heat - Moon believes that when it comes to trip - taking, "to go out not quite knowing why is the very reason for going out at all." The wonder of discovery runs throughout his latest book, Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey.

As Heat - Moon explains, quoz is "a noun, both singular and plural, referring to anything strange, incongruous, or peculiar; at its heart is the unknown, the mysterious. It rhymes with Oz." With his wife, Q, Heat - Moon travels the U.S. in search of it. They trace the bends of the Ouachita River - all 600 miles of it - from its source in Arkansas to its windings in Mississippi and its eventual end in Louisiana; venture to the Gulf Coast and Steinhatchee, Florida; visit Joplin, Missouri, and Quapaw, Oklahoma; take to the road in Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Idaho, North Carolina and many more places.

They uncover stories - lots of them. There's elderly Mrs. Weatherford and her tale of Northern Light rapture, Indigo Rocket and a 50 - foot femme fatale, the mysterious Goat Woman of Smackover Creek. Jack Kerouac and his 120 - foot scroll of a manuscript make an appearance, as do the Gullah people of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. There's even a recipe for pickle pie. "These wanderings," Heat - Moon writes, "took three years and four seasons to accomplish their sixteen thousand miles of journeys to places a goodly portion of the American populace would call 'nowhere.'

 

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