Summary and book reviews of The Great Northern Express by Howard Mosher

The Great Northern Express

A Writer's Journey Home

by Howard F. Mosher

The Great Northern Express
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2013, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

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About this Book

Book Summary

From bestselling, nationally celebrated author Howard Frank Mosher, a wildly funny and deeply personal account of his three-month, 20,000-mile sojourn to discover what he loved enough to live for.
 
Several months before novelist Howard Frank Mosher turned sixty-five, he learned that he had prostate cancer. Following forty-six intensive radiation treatments, Mosher set out alone in his twenty-year-old Chevy Celebrity on a monumental road trip and book tour across twenty-first-century America. From a chance meeting with an angry moose in northern New England to late-night walks on the wildest sides of America's largest cities, The Great Northern Express chronicles Mosher's escapades with an astonishing array of erudite bibliophiles, homeless hitchhikers, country crooners and strippers, and aspiring writers of all circumstances.
 
Full of high and low comedy and rollicking adventures, this is part travel memoir, part autobiography, and pure, anarchic fun. From coast to coast and border to border, this unforgettable adventure of a top-notch American writer demonstrates that, sometimes, in order to know who we truly are, we must turn the wheel towards home.

Introduction

The Great Northern Express is a tale not of two cities but, give or take a few, of one hundred. Specifically, it is the story of the monumental book tour I made the summer I turned sixty-five. That journey was inspired by a much shorter trip: a walk up the street to our village's tiny post office, where I received an unexpected letter.

This is also the story of how my wife, Phillis, and I came to settle in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. It, too, began with a journey: this one when we were just twenty-one, to interview for teaching jobs in the remote mill town of Orleans, in the northern Green Mountains just south of the Canadian border, where we planned to teach for a year or two, save some money, and then move on to graduate school.

I have divided The Great Northern Express into three parts: Faith, Hope, and Love. Certainly, faith, hope, and love are what sustained me during a sojourn I feared might be my last. The sixty-five chapters here suggest ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Mosher's voice is ebullient. His sense of humor plays lightly on themes of literature, mortality, and nostalgia, as if he were composing jazz riffs on an old banjo. Carl Hiaasen is quoted on the book jacket, comparing Mosher to Mark Twain - and the comparison is apt. It's a pleasure to be traveling in the company of his well-trained eye, always on the look-out for absurd conjunctions of American life. Like Twain, he locates poetry in the realm of the everyday - in the roadways and hotels and regular folks along the way.   (Reviewed by Jennifer G Wilder).

Full Review Members Only (585 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist

Hilarious, poignant, and honest, this bittersweet memoir is a sheer delight to read.

Kirkus Reviews

Whimsical... Mosher provides a genial reminder that adventures are possible at any age.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Mosher colorfully weaves stories... to create a brilliantly vibrant quilt that covers us with his warmth, humor, and love of discovery, reading, and writing.

Author Blurb John Irving
Mosher has always been a gifted storyteller; this time, there is an added euphoria in his storytelling - borne by the hope he and I share: for now, we have dodged a bullet that thirty thousand American men don't dodge every year.

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Beyond the Book

Howard Frank Mosher and The Kingdom

Howard Frank Mosher The place with which Howard Frank Mosher is most associated is not actually his native home. Born in the Catskill Mountains in 1942, he moved to Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom" (or as he calls it, "The Kingdom") as a newlywed in 1964 to take up his first teaching post. According to the NEK (Vermont's Northeast Kingdom) website, The Kingdom "comprises the three northeastern-most counties of the state - Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans countries." This territory has strong ties to Canada and a rugged regional character linked to forestry and harsh winters. The woods and rivers, and even "the scent of varnish from the furniture factory," reminded Mosher of the Catskill and North Country New York towns where he grew up, and he decided to ...

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