cover image Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey

Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey

William Least Heat-Moon, . . Little, Brown, $27.99 (581pp) ISBN 978-0-316-11025-9

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 nowhere”built 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)