William Least Heat-Moon turned 73 yesterday. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1939 and took all of his degrees from the University of Missouri at Columbia where he was also a professor of English. He still lives and writes along the Missouri River near Columbia.
Ever since I read his first book, Blue Highways, when it was published in 1982 (and several times since), I have looked to Least Heat-Moon as a mentor in the art of deep map travel writing. “I can't say, over the miles, that I had learned what I had wanted to know because I hadn't known what I wanted to know. But I did learn what I didn't know I wanted to know." Robert Sullivan, in reviewing Roads to Quoz (2008) for The New York Times Book Review, celebrated Least Heat-Moon’s "serendipity and joyous disorder." This is what I cherish about all of his books, and this is one of the reasons I like to take road trips and write about them. He has taught me to turn at the intersections where there are no signs telling you where you are or where the roads go. That is how you learn about the country that surrounds you.
These blog postings at Looking Toward Portugal are in many ways small individual tributes to what I have learned from reading William Least Heat-Moon. Here is wishing him a very Happy Birthday.
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For Those Who Die Too Young
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