Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS by Howard Frank Mosher

THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS

A Writer's Journey Home

By Howard Frank Mosher

Pub Date: March 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-45069-2
Publisher: Crown

An acclaimed novelist’s cross-country, “Great American Book Tour,” woven with quaint recollections of teaching in northern Vermont as well as enthusiasm for trout fishing.

Following radiation treatment for cancer, the then-65-year-old Mosher (Walking to Gatlinburg, 2010, etc.) embarked on a road trip inspired by a childhood promise that also coincided with the publication of a new novel. Forays in cities included stops at notable independent bookshops, from Prairie Lights to Powell’s; near-escapes with wildlife; anecdotal encounters with Oliver Sacks as well as Harry Potter fans; musings on landscapes; and conversations with locals characterized by humorous, occasionally larger-than-life traits. In three sections (“Faith,” “Hope” and “Love”), Mosher threads the uncertainty of his pre-novelist days with the foibles of now being an accomplished yet realistic, humble author. Rather than presenting a linear career story, he refreshingly alternates chapters between past and present. With equal aplomb, Mosher also looks back at challenges such as moving a piano, raucous motel patrons, rest-stop brawlers, limited audiences that included only the staff that organized the event and being mistaken for homeless. He also skillfully highlights memories that emphasize neighborly relationships. Chapters on Vermont are noteworthy for the recurrent theme of discovering simpler pleasures and searching for stories amid colorful lives. Fleeting conversations with imaginary characters may strike some readers as overly whimsical, and the digressive story about an inheritance is distracting. Still, Mosher provides a genial reminder that adventures are possible at any age.

One man’s appreciation for curious experiences, portrayed with self-effacing wit; best suited for fans of the author’s work.