Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mississippi Solo: A River Quest” as Want to Read:
Mississippi Solo: A River Quest
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mississippi Solo: A River Quest

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  299 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
The true account of a young black man's journey in quest of a lifelong dream to canoe the length of the Mississippi River. "I hope Mississippi Solo goes forth to encourage young Americans to . . . have an encounter with something real, as Eddy Harris did with the Mississippi River."--William Least Heat Moon
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by St. Martins Press-3pl (first published October 1st 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The author writes with an unsophisticated - almost conversational - style, which adds to appeal of this book. Like you are just hanging out, having a cup of coffee, and listening to Eddy tell about about his trip down the Mississippi River. THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, you say. Well, that's going to be quite a story. But after a while you wonder why you are becoming annoyed with this guy who seems a little full of himself at times. Was it because he was woefully unprepared for the trip? Or because he ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Art by: Minto Lending Library on 5th Street.
Similar to "Kon-Tiki", "Last of the Breed", "Eighty-days around the world", & "Voyage of the Frog" along w/others that I am reaching to remember.
One of the things that I am glad to belong to Goodreads, for it is helping me remember the books I have read to share w/others.
Mr. Harris does a good job noting the things he sees, feels, smells, tastes and hears on the Mississippi river and all what comes with it.
Makes me want to get out and canoe and re-visit some of the areas that he visited.
I ke
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
David Harris
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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_.
Catherine Woodman
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 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.
Danielle Clark kanallakan
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting autobiographical account of adventure down the Mississippi River. Harris does a great job narrating and puts you in the canoe with him.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved Eddy’s account of his trip down the Mississippi, and all of his books have now been added to my reading pile.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very inspiring.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Rich Flammer
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Lulu Johnson
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the story of a black man who decides to traverse the Mississippi from its beginning in Minnesota to its end in New Orleans by himself in a canoe. I enjoyed his descriptions of all the different people he came into contact with (some bad but fortunately most good) and the different adventures and challenges faced canoeing down a mighty river. There were times when I thought he pontificated too much and too long about the river though. He was trying to make it its own entity, a separate ch ...more
Nov 23, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jul 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
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.
Scott Pierce
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Could have used more about canoeing, and less whining.
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, travel, non-fiction
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 rated it liked it
Shelves: journals, travel, memoir
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.
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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!
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: adventure, memoirs, travel, usa
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 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.
Jan 15, 2014 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."
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Climbing Anchors
  • How Far She Went
  • Don't Go There! The Travel Detective's Essential Guide to the Must-Miss Places of the World
  • Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba
  • Tara Revisited: Women, War, & the Plantation Legend
  • Bloodstained Kings
  • Almost Innocent
  • Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald: An American Woman's Life
  • The Sweet Hell Inside: The Rise of an Elite Black Family in the Segregated South
  • Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience
  • High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess
  • Hallow This Ground
  • The Territory of Men: A Memoir
  • The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers Workshop - 43 Stories, Recollections, & Essays on Iowa's Place in Twentieth-Century American Literature
  • True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris
  • The Distance from the Heart of Things
  • Frank Stitt's Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill
  • Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures of a Food Tourist in Laos

Nonfiction Deals

  • Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother's Life with a Daughter's Anorexia
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Manic: A Memoir
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures
    $19.99 $1.99
  • Without a Doubt
    $5.99 $2.49
  • The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Paris Letters
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm
    $13.74 $1.99
  • My Cross to Bear
    $11.24 $1.99
  • The Warrior Ethos
    $6.99 $1.99
  • A Chance in this world
    $5.99 $0.99
  • It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Everyday Zen
    $11.24 $1.99
  • In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Somebody Else's Kids
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Maude
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Revised Edition)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Rational Optimist (P.S.)
    $14.49 $2.99
  • Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Of Wolves and Men (Scribner Classics)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • God: A Story of Revelation
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
    $10.95 $1.99
  • The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BC - 1492 AD
    $13.99 $2.99
  • I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed
    $9.99 $2.99
  • I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Things I've Been Silent About
    $4.99 $1.99
  • GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love
    $8.49 $2.99
  • The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dharma Punx: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings
    $10.99 $1.99
  • This Life I Live: One Man's Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever
    $9.99 $2.99
  • An Appeal to the World: The Way to Peace in a Time of Division
    $9.99 $1.99
  • How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists
    $8.99 $2.49
  • The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change The World
    $7.74 $1.99
  • Catch Me If You Can
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone
    $15.99 $2.99
  • We Are Not Such Things: The Murder of a Young American, a South African Township, and the Search for Truth and Reconciliation
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lab Girl
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
    $12.99 $3.99
  • American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Chancers: Addiction, Prison, Recovery, Love: One Couple's Memoir of Beating the Odds
    $10.99 $1.99
  • In a Different Key: The Story of Autism
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Pastor: A Memoir
    $9.99 $1.99
  • To Have or To Be?
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Happy Accidents
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Bridge of Spies
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Working with Emotional Intelligence
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis
    $13.99 $1.99
“Diehard musicians hate to go home.” 1 likes
“A vacation is external. A pilgrimage is internal. An adventure combines them.” 1 likes
More quotes…