What a storyteller! What a gentleman! Howard Frank Mosher is a person I would feel comfortable inviting for a potluck dinner, and would enjoy listening to his stories all evening. And, I doubt he’d raise an eyebrow about the limited menu or the kids bickering
Howard Frank Mosher, quintessential New England storyteller, is the author of ten novels (three have been made into movies!), one travel memoir, and his most recent work, The Great Northern Express, which tells of his lifetime journey as a writer.
I first met the author at last year’s Newburyport Lit Festival. He was signing his extensive backlist, and gave us a sneak peek at the stories he’d be sharing when The Great Northern Express was published in March 2012. He came to Concord as part of the book tour for this most recent book; the “appearances” page on his website will show you where else you’ll find him this year.
The impetus for Mr. Mosher writing the book was a letter he received after his annual physical, in which his doctor informed him of elevated PSA counts which required immediate attention. Over 50 radiation treatments later, the prostate cancer seemed under control, and he was advised to relax, not do anything too strenuous as his body healed.
As Mr. Mosher tells it, you can suggest a particular plan of action to a Vermonter, but heaven help the person who directly tells a Vermonter what to do. You see, during those radiation treatments, and faced with the inevitable eventual consequences of life, he had started to take inventory of the things he hadn’t done along the way. One big item was a road trip with his Uncle Reg (who had long since passed away).
Around the time of his treatment, Mosher’s novel On Kingdom Mountain was published. He decided to take that long-awaited roadtrip and promote On Kingdom Mountain with a 100-city, 20,000-mile book tour (that map in the background shows the route he took, along with “blurb” that may or (more likely) may not be attributed to famous people). It took the better part of four months, and gave him a treasure trove of stories to share about the people he met along the way.
The book tour portion of this memoir tells of his odyssey – from an encounter with an angry moose, to a ghostly evangelical hitchhiker, to conversations with his (departed) Uncle Reg and Mark Twin. And always, entertaining tales of his interactions at the bookshops he visited along the way. To get an idea of how strongly Mosher supports independent bookstores, take a look at his “Open Letter to the Independent Booksellers of America and Their Customers.”
Interspersed with chapters about “The Great American Book Tour” are stories of his home of almost 50 years, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (comprised of three counties in the northeastern corner of the state). We learn that Howard and his wife Phillis went to Vermont after college to look at teaching high school “for a year or so” before heading off to grad school. They fell in love with Orleans, the fishing and outdoor activities, and the many stories of the area … they never left!
Preview the slideshow that Mr. Mosher shares on his book tour for The Great Northern Express (music performed by his daughter, Annie):