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Mississippi Solo
Eddy L. Harris
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Mississippi Solo

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  219 ratings  ·  38 reviews
At 30 years old, Eddy Harris leaves his home in St. Louis and sets off into the chilly autumn for Lake Itasca. "I decided to canoe down the Mississippi River and to find out what I was made of," he writes. And Mississippi Solo is his stunning testament. Harris, who has authored Native Stranger, South of Haunted Dreams, and Still Life in Harlem, has been widely acclaimed si ...more
Published 1991 by Rowohlt Tb (first published October 1st 1988)
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It's been a long time since I read a book and said, "I don't care where this takes me, I just want to see how this author puts the next sentence together." That's how good Eddy Harris is - dude can write!
And maybe it's appropriate that we just want to follow the flow of his words as this is a memoir by a centrist black man who is riding the Mississippi from Minnesota to New Orleans just so he can say he did it. Just get in, get on, and ride.
And I'm glad I took the plunge (horrible pun), because
David Harris
It's been a long time since I read this book, so I can't dredge up many details in my mind anymore.

I usually enjoy travelogues, and I enjoyed this one. I've always wanted to do a long trip like this. Until I can do it myself, though, I'm happy to learn about the experience secondhand from someone who has done it.

By the way, if you enjoyed this book, I would recommend Cheryl Strayed's more recent travel book about walking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's called _Wild_.
Danielle Clark kanallakan
Living near the Mighty Mississippi, I found his description of the small towns through which he passed to be accurate and interesting. He also painted a rich picture of the landscape and characters he met along the way. Could not help but wonder why someone has not made this interesting story into a film
I really enjoyed this book, and particularly on the heels of reading Jerry Dennis' The Living Great Lakes. It's not that the books had that much in common, as the Great Lakes book is thoroughly an educational book and MS Solo is Eddy Harris' personal journey from the mouth of the Mississippi in Minnesota down to New Orleans by canoe, but both men share something of their personal journey on truly important bodies of water. They allow us in, while teaching us about the land and the water, how hum ...more
Donna Briggs
Mississippi Solo by Eddy Harris, ****
Eddy Harris takes the reader on his non-fictional ride down the Mississippi River, alone. Many lessons are learned during this voyage – from the practical knowledge of the use of the lock system to river courtesy. This is a classic tale of man vs. nature, and Harris allows the reader to experience the journey with him – the good and the bad.
Eddy was a 30 year old writer when he decided to make a canoe trip down the mighty Mississippi River. Though most of his
A black man decides to kayak down the Mississippi and, needless to say, such an extraordinary undertaking demands a retelling. I enjoyed it, but the author's insistence to pull away from the impact and framing of his experience in terms of being black in America and what it meant Being black in America, in my opinion, frames our experience and in that frame one realizes that different things means different things to different people. Whether it be by upbringing or life experie ...more
Honest, forthright, heartfelt writing that compiles into a raw sort of prose and down home story telling. It's important to note that great writing is often about the challenge the writer chooses to pursue, the distance ventured beyond his/her comfort zone, and the editorial outcome of such pursuits recorded, versus a command of writing style, flair and flow by someone who writes from an easy chair and invents dangers too fearsome to actually partake in. It's the difference between Harry Potter ...more
It helps if you like your narrator.
It helps if you are not frustrated with your narrators complete lack of preparation.
It helps if your narrator, who clearly fancies himself a lyric writer, doesn't recycle prose.

That said, for someone who loves travel, it can be fascinating stuff.
I love that this guy canoed the entire Mississippi and that's why I read the book, even though getting into a canoe on the Mississippi terrifies me. I didn't really care for the author's writing style at times, especially some of the cheesy awe of the river that he imparts (I mean, come on, it's the Mississippi River that seems pretty obvious.) It is an amazing journey. And I have to imagine anyone who has lived or does live near the River thinks about what it would be like to travel from Lake I ...more
In his first travel adventure, Harris goes down the Mississippi, from Lake Itasca to the sea, in a canoe. It was very good, although not up to par with his later two books. The style was patchy and the narration overall was barer than Native Stranger's – less description, less musing and philosophical reflection. Nevertheless, an engrossing and exciting book, if only because of the description of the feat itself.
This book is about a man who is taking a canoe down the Mississippi River from the headwaters to the mouth. It is an entertaining and easy read and I find Mr. Harris a relatable man. I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet him on his journey. Living along the River, this is one journey that is on my Bucket List. We hope to do this with the kids before they go off to college. We'll just leave from the landing below our house, though, not from the headwaters.
I decided to read this book after hearing the author speak at a writers’ conference. Based on the way he talked about his craft, I was ready to be swept away by the depth and beauty of his writing. Though the book is a good read, I didn’t feel that I learned much about the Mississippi River by reading it. Nor did I learn much about the craft of travel narrative. If nothing else, Mississippi Solo gives me a baseline from which to chart Harris’ development as a writer.
Catherine Woodman
I read this when we spent a week on a paddlewheel boat going down the Mississippi River--a man who has a mid-life crisis and canoes down the Mississippi. My oft quoted line from this book is when he loses his canoe and asks someone to help him, thinks it might have been stolen, and the woman says "you are in Minnesota. that didn't happen. You probably didn't tie it up right" and sure enough,she was right--they found it had floated down river a bit.
Tony Matthews
Great read while driving the great river road
Eddy Harris was here this week, reading from his work. This is his first book, about a solo canoe trip he took the length of the Missippi, and reveals his nature as a writer--curious, sympathetic, effervescent, gentle, sincere. Here, as in his later books--about Africa, Harlem, and the American south--Eddy explores his own identity as a black man as well as the nature of the place he is inhabiting. Lovely.
I found this book when I was going through my dad's library of books after he passed away. It sounded interesting and I knew my dad really loved this book. It was slow going at first but as I read more and more I felt as though I was silently riding along with Eddy. I could hear the river, smell the diesel, and it was wonderfully written. I highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
J.J. Murray
Mississippi Solo A River Quest by Eddy L. Harris

One of my dreams as a child was to canoe from Ontario, Canada, to New Orleans. Here's a man who makes a similar quest and learns that the journey itself is of far greater value than the destination. Simply fascinating and real.
slight paraphrase- an elder told him "you're going from a place where there's not many black folk, to a place where they don't like em" story told by a man with no canoe experience that decided to canoe the length of the mississippi- at times he was helped, shot at, doubting his decision, awed at the river and himself. what a thing to undertake!
"I've never minded looking stupid and I have no fear of failure. I decided to canoe down the Mississippi River and to find out what I was made of." "Once they reach a certain age, dreamers are no longer held in high esteem."
Gotta 'fess up... didn't finish it. Got halfway through a while ago and kept meaning to pick it up again... I liked what I'd read, and I absolutely admire Harris's quest and book, but it just wasn't for me.
Mar 15, 2009 Tina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tina by: Dan
Shelves: adventure-travel
My husband bought this book after hearing the author interviewed on NPR. Since it was just laying around I read it on a business trip. The author paddles the length of the Mississippi in a canoe. Interesting reading.
What a pleasure to read, lovely writing -- a journey down the Mississippi and into the author's own understanding of himself and his world. Harris is a new author to me, but I will definitely look for more.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Hadn't heard of the author until Kaye mentioned him, but will look for more. Since I grew up along the Ohio, I had an inside track on some of the references.
(0.3/5.0) Hated it and sat through six hours of my professor praising it, which made me hate it more. Feel good stories should never attempt to address race.
Inspiring. True story. A guy takes a conoe journey down the entire Mississippi River. Along the way, he encounters a variety of people and cultures.
While describing his canoe trip down the length of the Mississippi, the author includes truisms about human interaction in a very pleasant way.
Two stars, only for the memories of talking about how much I didn't like it with a good friend. Alternate title - "Mississippi With Everyone."
I'm so tired of people not preparing for a big event/decision in their lives, doing it anyways, and then writing a book about it.
An interesting take on travel writing and how the travel experience can change you. Sounds cliche, but it is true.
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