Picks and Pans Review: River-Horse
by William Least Heat-Moon
No one loves to wander the United States quite like William Least Heat-Moon, author of the bestselling Blue Highways and PrairyErth. For his latest travelogue, he spent more than 10 years mapping out a 5,000-mile boat journey (with only two short portages) in his 22-foot C-Dory called Nikawa (Osage for river-horse). Heat-Moon's passion for the nation's geography, history and the preservation of its rivers is infectious—and lucky for us it is, because four months on the water can have its slow stretches, as does this book.
On the other hand, the river provides Nikawa's crew with terrifying storms, risky rapids and dismayingly polluted waters as well as magically preserved, remote byways that are little changed since Lewis and Clark passed along them. Despite some overly languid sections and occasionally stilted writing ("I much missed my great friend"), River-Horse is a deeply American story of adventure, exploration and river life. (Houghton Mifflin, $26)
Bottom Line: Worthy, watery sequel to Blue Highways