978-1-55821-001-1 / 9781558210011

Mississippi Solo: A River Quest


Publisher:Nick Lyons Books



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About the book:

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

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