cover image Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road

Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road

William Least Heat-Moon. Little, Brown, $29.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-11024-2

Acclaimed travel writer Least Heat-Moon (Blue Highways) wanders off in every direction in this scintillating collection of short writings. Culled from 30 years of magazine articles, these pieces roam across terrain both familiar and exotic. Many find magic in mundane patches of America, from improbably delicious fried-fish stands on Minnesota’s Lake Superior shore to oddly idyllic Gulf Coast industrial canals and Seattle’s rebel micro-breweries. Others survey stranger climes: tiny Japanese garden farms crowded with bawdy roadside gods; Mayan villages in the Yucatan, their ancient fertility dances and traditional sorcery barely varnished by Catholicism. Several take in Britain’s crazy traffic, obnoxious ghosts, dotty antiquarians, and intimidating cuisine (a black pudding nearly does the author in). And some revisit scenes from Least Heat-Moon’s disheveled Native American background, including a riotous Thanksgiving feud between a full(er)-blooded uncle and heathen-disdaining aunt. A master at conjuring place, Least Heat-Moon intertwines primeval geology with modern social mores, gorgeous scenery with tourist tackery, vast landscapes with intricate psychologies. (One piece follows a letter-bomber’s demented quest to paint a colossal smiley-face of explosions across the Great Plains.) There is a dazzling variety of places, people and curiosities, linked by a highway of funny, perceptive, generous prose. (Jan. 8)