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The Great Northern Express: A Writer's Journey Home

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  193 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
From bestselling, nationally celebrated author Howard Frank Mosher, a wildly funny and deeply personal account of his three-month, 20,000-mile sojourn to discover what he loved enough to live for.
Several months before novelist Howard Frank Mosher turned sixty-five, he learned that he had prostate cancer. Following forty-six intensive radiation treatments, Mosher set out a
Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Published (first published March 6th 2012)
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Diane Barnes
Jul 18, 2016 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, rounded up.

Well, that was a treat! Lots of humor, lots of Vermont local lore (it's good to know that all crazy rednecks are not Southern), and a love story of sorts about independent bookstores. Howard takes a trip across the US for a self - organized book tour. He's 65, alone, recovering from radiation therapy, and misses his wife. His 20 year old car is also falling apart. Since he's financing this himself, he mostly stays at Motel 6 and eats at MacDonalds. But none of that stops hi
Jan 25, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely adored this book. I actually found myself smiling (OK, I don't smile or laugh when I'm reading as a rule!) A Vermont treasure, writer Howard Frank Mosher, expecting to (finally!) receive his acceptance to a MacArthur Fellowship instead receives a letter from his doctor that he has prostate cancer. After 46 radiation treatments, instead of heeding the nurse’s suggestion “to relax,” the very next day he takes off on a cross-country independent book tour to promote his latest book. And ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol by: Booktopia 2012 Author
4 stars - I really liked The Great Northern Express...and how could I not? The Great Northern Express is at its soul what good old fashioned story telling is all about, a heart-felt skill that may soon be lost.

Howard Frank Mosher invites us on this special journey as he recovers from radiation therapy after a diagnosis with prostate cancer which leaves him staring his own mortality in the face. Not one to sit idly by and wallow in self pity, Howard jumps in his 20 year old Chevy Celebrity, dubb
Eric Kibler
Based on the description, my expectation was that this book was going to be something similar to John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck "Travels With Charley" or William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon "Blue Highways" (two of my favorite books). I thought I might find within some philosophical ramblings about what America is, about where it's going, about the character of its people. Something more sober and ruminative.

What it is, is...cute. It's a loosely-slung collection of mostly amusing anecdotes from 1964-5 (the Moshers'
Jan 29, 2012 Carol rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
When I read about this book, I thought it would great. For one thing, I love road trips. For another, I thought that Howard Frank Moser was nudged by his cancer scare into doing something he had longed to do for so many years. He had endured 46 radiation treatments for prostate cancer. I am not familiar with that type of cancer but I have had friends who have had other types of cancer and they did not have so many radiation treatments.

Howard Frank Moser and his uncle had originally planned to g
May 15, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love fishing stories. Lord know why, since I can remember only fishing a couple of times in my life. There is something about the sinuous dance of the line, the exotic choice of flies, the murmur of water, the glint of sun that mesmerizes me. And perhaps there is something about that wily fisherman hatching his next story in the big outdoors that makes even failure seem like a good day.

Howard Frank Mosher did not write a fish story. Well, not really. But it felt like one. He gives us long, laz
Tanya Sousa
Sep 06, 2014 Tanya Sousa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Howard Mosher's books have never been "usual", and that's something I like about them. This one is the first "memoir" of his I've read though, and for some reason I thought it would be more, well, "typical". Nope! It was in fine Howard Mosher style! It was funny and touching and frolicked along in the same way that life does - you don't quite know where it's leading you, but you are glad you're on the ride. He manages to bring you along in this seemingly haphazard way, and then pulls it together ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frank Mosher is a great guy to spend a few hundred pages with. I laughed aloud. For me the book is similar to Pat Conroy's "My Reading Life" in terms of narrative voice. The writer wholeheartedly embraces his own weirdness.
I love travel writing but this was a total snooze. So boring.
I started out liking this book but, alas, since I did not finish it, I cannot recommend the book. I did not find any part of it wildly funny or amusing as the publisher says. It left me kind of blah.
Thomas Holbrook
This book promised: 1) an account of a road trip, 2) visit(s) to various, independent booksellers across the country, 3) a journey that leads “home.” This was the first book by Mr. Mosher, a.k.a. “Frank Who,” I have read so his humorous telling of his trek was a bonus.
When Howard Frank Mosher was 65, he applied for a McArthur Grant, which would pay him to “practice his art,” however he saw fit, for a year. His “McArthur Grant,” came in the form of a Cancer diagnosis. He took the moment of cla
Barbara Mitchell
Mar 17, 2012 Barbara Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Howard Frank Mosher's account of his life as recalled during a cross-country book tour in a 20 year old car he calls the "Loser Cruiser" is guaranteed to make you laugh. I received it through Amazon Vine; it went on sale March 6, 2012.

After a diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer and his 65th birthday, Mosher decides to head out to independent bookstores all over the country to promote his new book. His beloved wife stays home so he imagines passengers to keep him company. It's his habit t
Mary Miller
Nov 12, 2013 Mary Miller rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Part travelogue, part memoir, "The Great Northern Express" doesn't quite satisfy either category. After undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer, Howard Frank Mosher decided to go on a lengthy author-road trip from Vermont to California and back. His mode of transportation was a 20-year-old Chevy Celebrity that he names the Loser Cruiser. With over a hundred independent bookstores on the agenda, he comments about the countryside, strange characters, and the state of bookstores in this ...more
John Benson
Sep 27, 2016 John Benson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 1st book that I read by Howard Frank Mosher was a travelogue. He wrote in NORTHERN BORDERS about a trip he took along the US/Canadian border as he turned 50. Since I read that book, I have read all of Howard Frank Mosher's novels. Now with this book, fifteen years later, I have returned to read another travelogue as he turned 65, experienced prostrate cancer and decides to go on a book tour visiting independent book stores through out the US and selling one of his novels (He never says which ...more
Jenny Brown
May 22, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful book mixing a surrealistic account of a Quixotic cross country book tour with memories of he author's first year teaching school in a small town in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The author is a master of the short, pithy, humorous anecdote that stretches credulity to the point where it never quite gets its spring back, but he does that kind of talespinning so well it doesn't really matter if any of it is true or not.

Having lived in rural New England myself for quite a while, includi
This settles it. Howard Frank Mosher is one of my favorite story tellers. This book recounts an awesome journey across the country and back. It's a writer's memoir, a reader's memoir, a son's memoir, a nephew's memoir, a teacher's memoir, a husband's memoir, a friend's memoir, oh, I could go on. A friend of mine likens it to Steinbeck's Travels with Charley. I don't disagree because Mosher tells a story of America, a reading America and a non-reading America, but there is something far more pers ...more
After surviving cancer and forty -four (!) radiation treatments, the author celebrated his 65th birthday with a 50 state book signing road trip which he took alone, in an elderly van fondly nicknamed `The Loser Criuser", except for various imaginary navigators (an uncle, Mark Twain, etc.) in the catbird seat. This book tells the story of that trip.

I often reminisce when I drive distances, so was not too surprised at the segues from present day to events long past. The problem was that they were
Feb 19, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
Torn about this book. I really enjoyed the author's writing. It included stories from earlier life when he was first out of college and trying to find his way towards writing. It also included stories of a current day cross-country (and back) book tour road trip to independent bookstores. I enjoyed both, but sometimes it was unclear when it jumped back and forth. This was mainly a problem for me when I didn't know if he was speaking to his uncle, or speaking aloud to himself but saying he was sp ...more
Jon Manchester
Howard Frank Mosher, the author, hails from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. I read his novel "Stranger In The Kingdom" years ago and loved it. This story covers a massive book tour across the U.S. he embarked on following the last of his treatments for prostate cancer. It was something like 100 bookstores across the county and Mosher travelled by himself in a beat-up Chevy Cavalier. Technically Mosher was alone, although he often "talks" to imaginary companions along the way. There are parts o ...more
Feb 01, 2017 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh man. This is everything a memoir should be.

Howard Mosher, who wrote in The Northeast Kingdom, died last Sunday. I had just checked out an armload of his novels from the local library. The first book I picked to read was this memoir, The Great Northern Express, which appears to be his last book, published in 2012. I see why he won all those dang awards. I don't know why he wasn't "famous."

His writing is spare and intelligent and hilarious. That is all you need to know about that.

His autobiog
I was amused. But... Mosher's writing style, which reminded me a bit of Mark Twain, is not my favorite writing style (no offense but Twain is one of my least favorite authors as well, and please save yourself the messages. Yes, I know that I "shouldn't feel that way" but I do. It's my opinion. And I'm allowed to have it.)

After undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, Mosher sets off on a 100 city book tour, and hence, this memoir is born. I found it entertaining. At times, I found myself smili
Jan 11, 2015 Debra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, humor
Howard Mosher sets off on a cross-country book tour after being mugged by prostate cancer and its treatments of radiation. Having planned to take a trip like this with his Uncle Reg, he takes him along as a side kick, in spirit.
The book slides back and forth from the day-to-day trip across country and its adventures and mishaps to the life that Mosher found in Vermont when as a newlywed and recent college graduate he accepted a job teaching high school English. The variety of characters that
Jul 31, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very pleasant book about an older gentlemen that wrote and published his book, and decided to take it on a book signing all over the country by car (an old 20 year clunker), and to really enjoy the experiences that were involved with it. He had just finished radiation for Prostrate cancer, but his attitude was so good, and I could just easily put myself in his place and enjoying the fishing by the rivers and all the delightful stuff he reiterated while reading and writing. For a low stress enj ...more
Helen Pike
Aug 05, 2012 Helen Pike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great way "to ride" with a writer across America while he's on a book tour. Thoroughly enjoyed the adventures (some of them near-misses) of "Harold Who" (always humbling when a bookstore manager doesn't recognize you as the author booked to do a signing). There's a nice subplot about his Uncle Reg's lost manuscript that deserved more telling and a curious contretemps with Garrison Keillor. This second memoir by Mosher is also a great read for anyone teaching writing to any age group OR for someo ...more
May 16, 2015 Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, fast read; part memoir, part travel journal. If you've never read Mosher, I wouldn't start here, but if you're already a fan, it's a nice book that gives a little bit of insight to the man behind Kingdom County. While I would have liked more stories from the road -- as it is, the book focuses more on the author's memories of moving to Vermont in the mid-60s than it does on his road trip (and even then, much of the road trip narrative takes place in Mosher's head with his imaginary compan ...more
Richard Becker
Apr 08, 2016 Richard Becker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: author, biography, books
This story of a writer's book tour across the country in support of his latest novel is much more than that. It tells the tale of his trip, of course, including many quirky characters the author meets along the way. It also is the story of the author and his wife's first year as teachers in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, where he also wants to write novels. I laughed out loud at some of the things that happened to Mosher in that year and the people he met then. They later populated his fiction abo ...more
May 27, 2012 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read 2 Fiction books by this author and really enjoyed them. So, being a booklover, and knowing this was about the author's cross country tour of independent bookstores, I thought it would be fun to read this memoir. It was entertaining but the writing was a bit disjointed. It kept going back and forth to different time periods in his life. Unfortunately there really wasn't much info on the independent bookstores, or about their approach to selling books these days, given the popularity of ...more
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
Whether this is a travel writing story or an autobiography, it is a lovely book full of love, wit, melancholy and encounters with real and imaginary people.
After a cancer treatment, Howard Mosher takes a trip through the USA with his old car fulfilling a promise that he once made. While driving around he tells his story, how he started writing, the love for his wife, their life in Vermont, memories of his father, his uncle, his former co-workers.
A must for those who love to read Mosher's books.
Feb 15, 2012 Ellen rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed every book by Mosher that I've read. I was introduced to him by a customer at I Love Books (where I used to be a book seller). This book is, among other things, the story of a book tour Mosher took of 100 independent book stores across the country. His admiration for book sellers and his love of books of all kinds are obvious. If you've never read him, I would start with Stranger in the Kingdom.
Mar 22, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brand new to my library's bookshelves, this book is the first I've read by this author. And he lived up to all the good "reviews" I've heard over the years. The book follows his adventures on the Great American book tour that stretched across the country. Covering three months -- and adding 20,000-plus miles to his already-delapidated Chevy -- he takes the reader on an armchair-traveling adventure. I'll definitely have to go back and read his other books.
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Howard Frank Mosher was an American author. Over the course of his career, Mr. Mosher published 12 novels, two memoirs and countless essays and book reviews. In addition, his last work of fiction, points North will be published by St. Martin's press in the winter of 2018.

Mosher was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1979. A Stranger In the Kingdom won the New England Book Award for Fiction in 1991, and was l
More about Howard Frank Mosher...

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