Review: Travel essayist explores theme of escape
HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE. By William Least Heat-Moon. Little, Brown and Company. 390 pages. $29.99.Anywhere but here is the theme connecting travel essays in William Least Heat-Moon’s “Here, There, Elsewhere.”
Readers travel widely from Japan to Mississippi, New Zealand and the Shetland Islands.
The author’s reasons for traveling are as varied as the places he visits. And as in his most famous work, “Blue Highways,” Heat-Moon’s stated purpose is to find “more than” himself as he travels, using as his measuring stick James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.”
With this admirable goal in mind, Heat-Moon tirelessly searches for common threads that run through all people yet transcend modern culture.
He doesn’t always hit the mark, but when he does, as in “A Little Tour in Yoknapatawpha County,” William Faulkner’s imaginary terrain, the reader is at Faulkner’s home knocking on the front door.
In “Morning in Manorola,” the reader clearly sees the stacked houses with their backs pounded by the raging Italian sea.
And in “The Pencil Makers” the authors’ bitterness at what became of a once-mighty Indian tribe will sting readers.
Despite his claims to escape himself, it is often the author who is most clearly revealed in the essays. Armchair travelers who enjoy side trips off the beaten track will enjoy this collection.Reviewer Hayden D. Shook teaches English as a Second Language at St. Matthew’s Community Center and the College of Charleston.