I just finished reading Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road, a wonderful collection of travel stories by William Least Heat-Moon. Originally published as magazine articles, these stories were chosen by the author and are wonderfully diverse accounts of his travels throughout the world. The author is a poetic writer, and his language throughout the stories is inspiring. For example, in Oysters and the American Union, he beautifully describes the distinctive mobility of Americans- “The pavement of our highways is more than just concrete- it is also the cement of our national culture. Without the topographical communications that allow and encourage us to meet each other directly and indirectly, whether on my territory or yours, the Constitution would be little more than a theoretical document of a lost history.” And in Not Far Out of Tullahoma- “Six cylinders and twelve-hundred miles of reinforced concrete patched with asphalt created a sense of the United States and the varieties of being an American that no social studies class could ever do. I believed in this country far beyond the morning pledge of allegiance or even the propaganda movies of the war because I encountered the land itself and the faces and voices that went with it.” Whew, if that doesn’t inspire you to hit the road, I don’t know if anything can!
The stories included in Here, There, Elsewhere, are varied and take place from Japan to Scotland to the lonely highways of Arizona. While it’s hard to pick a favorite, I especially enjoyed A Glass of Handmade which describes the author and his friend’s travels to various taverns in search of a good brew. Part story of friendship, part travel log, it is also a fascinating account of the American beer industry. This is the charm of Here, There, Elsewhere- not only are you entertained, you come away having learned something. I also love books in short story format. Sometimes it’s nice to start and finish a story in the same sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would recommend this wonderful collection of stories to any travel buff.
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