We hope you have the opportunity to come out this weekend — Saturday, March 27 at 11 a.m. — to meet and hear Howard Frank Mosher, a friend and rare storyteller from Vermont, who plans to stop in Greenwood on his 2010 Great American Book Tour. Mr. Mosher is a tireless promoter in the best sense — not pushy or overzealous, but generous to share his talent and curious to find good bookstores and readers all over the country. With each book he jumps in the car and travels from New England to the West Coast and back again, stopping at stores all along the way — a grassroots roamer whose enthusiasm for his own stories is infectious.
You'll see what we mean when you start reading his new novel, Walking to Gatlinburg, the story of a 17-year-old Vermont boy who heads out to find his older brother, gone missing from the Union Army. From the outset the young man has angered a band of slave catchers, who pursue him south through a shattered country, into the Great Smoky Mountains, encountering strange characters and wild adventure along the way. Not so different from his book tours, we imagine.
Mosher's ode to the classic 19th century road novel hits all the right notes — a great narrative, wise tone, rich historical detail and fantastical elements from the tall tale tradition. Imagine a more upbeat Cold Mountain, or a more down-home Odyssey. "William Gay meets Pilgrim's Progress," one reader here described it, likening the author's gothic sensibilities as much to Poe as McCarthy. This is the kind of homespun adventure tale we don't see near enough. Passing around our tattered advanced copy, we must confess that Mr. Mosher never fails to amaze us. Why's he not a household name? The Associated Press, after all, dubbed him "the closest thing we have to Mark Twain."
The author is stopping by in time for lunch on Saturday, and we're encouraging everyone to show up at 11 a.m., meet Mr. Mosher, place a lunch order and settle in for his 11:30 slide show presentation, "Transforming History into Fiction: The Story of a Born Liar," in which he describes the research trips he made through the Smoky Mountains as well as the strange family history that inspired the book, including tales of the great-great grandfather who "met his end while attempting to murder his family."