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Mississippi Solo
Eddy L. Harris
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Mississippi Solo

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  248 Ratings  ·  41 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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(showing 1-30 of 413)
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Kavita Ramesh
I read this as required reading for a class. It has stayed with me despite the decades that have passed since!

I gave it three stars (instead of 5) because I did not like the narrator's voice and I could not relate to his POV. However, I loved the adventure.

It made me want to live this story!

Feb 10, 2011 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: people-biography
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
Dec 07, 2013 David Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cath Smith
Feb 03, 2016 Cath Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful book. The author paddles the whole length of the Mississippi River; on the way he learns how to paddle a canoe and becomes one with the river.
A journey of discovery in more ways than one.
May 11, 2013 Sueij rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 21, 2013 Donna Briggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 25, 2015 dirt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone who needs to get out.
Recommended to dirt by: Lock and Dam 26
A love story about a man and a river.

Eddy Harris delivers a wonderfully honest account of his trip down the Might Mississippi. He does a remarkable job portraying the different moods of the river, the towns and people he encounters, and the fluctuating state of his soul. One notion I took away from this book is that 99.5% of his encounters with other people were positive, which helps reaffirm my personal belief that most people are good, decent, and eager to help.

The amazing days, desperate mom
Rich Flammer
Aug 18, 2013 Rich Flammer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2014 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 05, 2007 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 18, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel, 2011
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.
Oct 14, 2007 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journals, memoir, travel
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
Jul 29, 2011 Catherine Woodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2014 Tony Matthews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read while driving the great river road
Feb 11, 2008 Margi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 16, 2013 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2010 J.J. Murray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 11, 2010 kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jan 21, 2014 Therese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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."
Apr 18, 2015 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, travel, usa, adventure
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 really liked it  ·  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.
Apr 08, 2009 Kaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 30, 2009 Modisettwilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 27, 2013 Myles rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uc-berkeley
(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.
Nov 17, 2009 Karin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 05, 2012 Beana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While describing his canoe trip down the length of the Mississippi, the author includes truisms about human interaction in a very pleasant way.
Feb 18, 2008 Lydia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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."
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