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Journeys of Lightheartedness

KIRKUS REVIEWS 

Journeys of Lightheartedness, First Edition

In these pleasant travel essays ranging from Patmos to Paris, Moore (How the DNR Stole Wisconsin, 2008) looks for the best in his destinations.


As an investigative reporter, Moore might be accustomed to pinpointing the worst characteristics of people and places. In this volume, however, his emphasis is on a positive attitude. “There is a certain giddiness to be derived in finding the exotic at home, and in uncovering home in the far-flung land,” he says. As proof of the latter: on a trip to Patmos, Greece, Moore unexpectedly ran into his in-laws. Even places that leave a bad first impression can be redeemed. For instance, Moore hated Paris when he first visited with a buddy in his youth, but he realized on a 2004 follow-up trip with his wife that universal French rudeness is an urban myth. The other six essays are U.S.–set, but what they lack in geographical breadth they make up for with topical variety. “New York Stories” uses Kant’s ambivalent adjective, sublime, to encapsulate 12 years of life experiences: attending games at Yankee Stadium, passing a movie set covered in fake snow, and surviving his son’s eventful birth epitomize the beauty, while a tiny apartment, a mugging, and the collapse of his first marriage account for the terror. After all, he says, “the sublime can be accompanied by terror it is so overwhelming.” Despite his wanderlust, Moore has always returned to the South. “Riding the Big Red to South Carolina,” an account of a long bus journey to his hometown, is the collection’s highlight, with excellent reconstructed dialogue and Bill Bryson–esque humor. Frustrated with stereotypes of “charming accents and good-ol’-boy mannerisms,” Moore concentrates on finding the “real” South. Lyrical descriptions of nature and an awareness of the past—prehistory onward—enliven an essay about Charleston and Edisto Island, while a then-and-now portrait of a North Carolina main street illuminates recent history. Two essays from the 1980s feel dated, with references to loading film and the Greek political situation. However, Moore’s general advice is sound: “If you want to see a place and meet the people, walk it.”

Readers' Favorite review by Jack Magnus  5 stars

Readers' Favorite is the recipient of the "Honoring Excellence" and "Best Websites for Authors" awards by the Association of Independent Authors, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the National Education Association.

Journeys of Lightheartedness: A Tale of Travel & Discovery is a collection of travel essays written by Richard Moore. The author shares his experiences in Europe, New York, the south and Wisconsin. The reader first gets a traveler's view of Paris, a city the author admits to not having enjoyed the first few times he visited there. It was only when he acceded to his wife's request to go there that he discovered just how much he loved the city, and he shares that newly found affection with his readers. He follows this adventure with their trip to Patmos, a small island in Greece, and a series of stories about his life in New York City. Moore spent more than a decade in NY until he decided to return to his Southern roots. 

Richard Moore's collection of travel essays, Journeys of Lightheartedness: A Tale of Travel & Discovery, is more than just the latest bit of touristy nonfiction written for armchair adventurers. The author has a magical way with words and quickly had me vicariously enjoying the delights of Paris and the primitive beauty of Patmos, and remembering fondly the ubiquitous buttered roll that is the breakfast of so many busy New Yorkers. Where Journeys of Lightheartedness truly shines is in the nature descriptions, which I found myself reading very slowly, savoring each image and shared experience. I kept on interrupting my read to Google the places Moore describes as they became too compelling to just visit from my armchair. In effect, Journeys of Lightheartedness has given me some marvelous destinations for my next few journeys, and I'm looking forward to revisiting for myself the places Moore describes so well. Reading Journeys of Lightheartedness was a remarkable and illuminating experience and it's most highly recommended.

Readers Favorite review by Mary DeKok Blowers  4 stars

The lyrical style of writing makes Journeys of Lightheartedness a travel book like no other. Rather than sights to see, or dots on a map, Richard Moore focuses on the experience; how does it feel rather than what did you see. Sights of the city profiled are described, but not always the typical sites. Moore details the feeling, the experience, the small details of old neighborhoods and apartments he called home. In Paris he describes the hot dog vendors; in New York the sidewalks and brownstones; and on the island of Patmos the goat trails which disingenuously were the most scenic route to the far points of the island. 

As a person who has not had much opportunity to travel, although perhaps more than some, Journeys of Lightheartedness resonates with my travel philosophy. I don’t always see all the recommended sights, as they are often well pictured on postcards and in coffee table books. Instead I love the bookstores and the thrift shops, and the diners where the locals eat. Moore and his wife Liz frequented the same food stands often in his many travels, getting to know the vendors as best he could, in their leather vests and white aprons, complete with pocket watch. Outings with old friends are described as they stretch the limits of the friendship.
 
One might imagine while reading Journeys of Lightheartedness that you can see and smell and hear what Moore describes to you. You could be transported to North Carolina or California or Wisconsin right along with him. On the way, you might see the cracked leather seat in front of you, or smell the ancient cigar smoke that resides in the draperies in a restaurant, from a time when smoking was allowed everywhere. You might chat with the washroom attendant or the flea market vendor. In any case, you will enjoy the trip.