Down the Mississippi: A Modern-day Huck on America’s River Road
When CNN citizen journalist Neal Moore slid his canoe into the headwaters of the Mississippi River to begin a 2,300-mile odyssey across the midsection of the United States, he was acutely aware of another American who filled his tales with what he saw and heard along the river: Mark Twain. Neal was doing what every self-respecting Twain-enthusiast wishes to do. He was on The River. And in it. And alongside it. He was in bright sun and harm’s way. Neal was attracting characters as they attracted him, and their stories poured forth. Whether interviewing a Delta musician singing the economic blues, an Ojibwe dancer sharing a secret tradition, or an inmate doing 25 to life at “The Farm,” Moore’s stories are imbued with the most common of all American traits: optimism.
“In reading Down the Mississippi, we are reminded not to forget to live our dreams.” — Kathy Eldon, author of In the Heart of Life
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Homelands: A Memoir.
At age 19, Neal Moore, a drug-addled sixth-generation Mormon, bids farewell to his cancer-stricken mother and grants her dying wish: to become a missionary. Accepting an assignment to the South Africa Cape Town Mission, Elder Moore goes from the comfortable, upper-class suburbs of his native Los Angeles into a nation emerging, sometimes violently, from the strictures of racial apartheid. It’s the early 1990s, a volatile period between Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and ascension to power. And nowhere is the struggle more intense than in the black townships where Moore is assigned to take up residence. But this naive and troubled “soldier of God,” who toys with suicide because of the deaths of an idolized older brother and his mother, finds solace in the friendship and solidarity of the people he’s been sent to teach, the Xhosa. Evocative, disturbing and at times hilarious, Homelands is the true tale of one youth’s discovery that there is a world beyond one’s own culture and beliefs, set against the backdrop of a nation in motion, struggling to define itself on the road to freedom.
“An enlightening and entertaining story.” – Writer’s Digest
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