Barbara Mitchell's Reviews > The Great Northern Express: A Writer's Journey Home

The Great Northern Express by Howard Frank Mosher
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Mar 17, 12


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 to talk to imaginary people even as he's walking down the street at home anyway so this is nothing new.

Home is northeastern Vermont, a place he describes so funny you'll hold your sides laughing. He and his wife moved there directly after Syracuse University to be teachers, and the school superintendent there judges days by whether they require two or three quarts of beer to get him through. The new teachers are told that their primary mission is to keep the kids out of the mill, i.e. a furniture factory in town.

This memoir sort of reminds me of William Least Heat Moon's travel memoirs, except that Mosher's trip is so much more hilarious. He stays in Motel 6 or a local dive, refusing to stay anywhere more upscale, and he meets the strangest people. However, this is also an homage to the surviving independent bookstores in this country. All readers, I'm sure, are aware that indies are becoming nearly extinct, but some of the ones still open are becoming quite famous. You'll recognize a few.

This author is so wacky it took me a little bit to decide if I liked the book but then it grew on me and I just drove my husband crazy reading sections to him from then on. By the way, the author and his car both survive to get back to Mrs. Mosher.
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