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Mississippi Solo: A River Quest
by Eddy Harris
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805059032, Paperback)At 30 years old, Eddy Harris leaves his home in St. Louis and sets off into the chilly autumn for Lake Itasca. "I decided to canoe down the Mississippi River and to find out what I was made of," he writes. And Mississippi Solo is his stunning testament. Harris, who has authored Native Stranger, South of Haunted Dreams, and Still Life in Harlem, has been widely acclaimed since the first release of Mississippi Solo in 1988. It is greatly pleasing to see this important and stimulating first work revived.
As the Mississippi grows from its tiny source to a wide and powerful flow, Harris gains confidence as a canoeist, faith in his endeavor, and an understanding of his varying identity as an African American traveling alone from north to south in the United States. His exact and brilliantly revealing prose shows us how each bend in this mighty river turns itself within the paddler, how person and river are entwined--and who is in charge.
With an astute ear for irony, philosophy, and wisdom, as well as truths about the river, Harris takes the reader through locks and lakes on the northern Mississippi to the wild and swift and meandering river south of St. Louis. Songs of joy, troughs of loneliness, terrific storms, birdsong, paranoia, friendly captains, wild dogs, and ghosts of slaves fill his pages. Then we face off with two hunters, two shotguns, and Harris's single pistol... and still the river leads him on to New Orleans. Like the river he travels, Harris cuts through to the core of himself and his country. Triumphant! --Byron Ricks
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:41 -0400)
Since the publication of his first book, Mississippi Solo, Eddy L. Harris has been praised for his travel writing. In this exciting reissue of his classic travelogue, readers will come to treasure the rich insightful prose that is as textured as the Mississippi River itself. They will be taken by the hand by an adventurer whose lifelong dream is to canoe the length of this mighty river, from Minnesota to New Orleans. The trip's dangers were legion for a Black man traveling alone, paddling from "where there ain't no black folks to where they still don't like us much." Barge waives loom large, wild dogs roam the wooded shores, and, in the Arkansas dusk, two shotgun-toting bigots nearly bring the author's dream to a bloody end. Sustaining him through the hard weeks of paddling were the hundreds of people who reached out to share a small piece of his challenge. Mississippi Solo is a big, rollicking, brilliant book, a wonderful piece of American adventure, and an unforgettable story of a man testing his own limits.
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