We love Howard Frank Mosher's wonderful new memoir The Great Northern Express. Join us tonight, Saturday, March 17th at 6 pm as he presents his escapades - an astonishing array of erudite bibliophiles, homeless hitchhikers, country crooners and strippers, and aspiring writers of all circumstances.
Q. You are primarily known as a novelist. What inspired your new memoir, The Great Northern Express?
A. In 2007, the year I turned sixty-five, I was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. This reminder of “our common human mortality” motivated me to make a long-deferred cross-country tour of many of America’s best independent book stores. As I drove from city to city—more than one hundred in all—in my twenty-year-old Chevy affectionately known as the “Loser Cruiser,” I had an opportunity to reflect on my life as a writer in Vermont’s remote and beautiful Northeast Kingdom. The Great Northern Express is an account of that trip and of my recollections, en route, of my life in the Kingdom.
Q. What were some of the most memorable experiences on your book-tour odyssey?
A. Being cornered in a vacant lot in northern New England by an angry, 1,000-pound mother moose; being mistaken for a homeless person and offered a job sweeping out a hole-in-the-wall cafe in Oakland; and conducting lively conversations with a gallery of road buds, including Mark Twain, Harry Potter, and Jesus.
Also, I enjoyed visiting every single one of the 150 or so independent bookstores on my itinerary. While I love to write, I live to read. I believe that our independent booksellers are not only keeping readers like me going—they’re keeping alive the book as we know it.
Q. Was your trip a life-altering, “transformative” experience?
A. Yes. After my radiation treatments, I wanted to use the book-tour sojourn in part to discover and reflect on “what I loved enough to live for”—books, stories, friends, my home in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and, most of all, my children, grandchildren, and Phillis Mosher, my wife, muse, and soulmate of nearly fifty years.
Q. What was the most surprising result of your 100-city tour?
A. The wonderful opportunity to renew old friendships, and form new ones, with indie booksellers and their customers.
Q. Is there one theme or idea that emerges from and informs both the road-trip and Northeast Kingdom sections of The Great Northern Express?
A. Yes. Love. Love of family, friends, books, and home. The trip was a great opportunity to see the country and sell some books, but as is usually the case, the inner journey turned out to be more important.
Q. And finally, what happened to the “Loser Cruiser”?
A. Order a copy of The Great Northern Express from your local independent bookstore—you’ll be surprised, and I think pleased, to find out!