The PrairyErth reunion at Chase County this weekend was all about stories, and here's one you'll only read about here:
"Roads to Quoz" isn't a book so much as an epiphany, with equal parts adventure and literary exploration into language both real and imagined. As customary with these American forays (or moseys, as he calls them), readers are treated to William Least Heat-Moon's boundless wit and biting humor as he explores the backroads of the nation. In "Roads to Quoz," his latest, readers are also introduced to his lovely wife, Jo Ann, known in the book simply as Q. Her presence enriches and enlivens the book.
I had the honor and pleasure of meeting both Heat-Moon and Q during the reunion. I was there as a reporter but mostly as a fan of his iconic work on Kansas, but conscious, too, of my duties as a photojournalist. So when the line formed for autographs of his works, I devoted my time to capturing good shots, knowing that my copy of Quoz was back at the car. When the line was through I spoke with Heat-Moon and told him that sometime during the evening I wanted him to sign the book. I also mentioned how much I enjoyed having Q along for the journey, at which time his eyes lit up and he said, "Q has to sign your book, too!"
He told me that anytime during the presentation if I hoisted the book aloft, he would snag his wife and they would together autograph it. Later, as the director was hastening him from last minute autograph-seekers, I ran up with my copy in hand and, quickly apprising the situation, simply held up the book and caught his eye. "Q!" I shouted.
His laugh was infectious. "I'll be along in a minute," he told the director, and summoning his wife had her sign below his name. She didn't sign "Jo" or "Jo Ann," but "Q."
I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life.
(Incidentally, he took my arm and we walked across the grounds to the barn, a goodly mosey, wherein we discussed language, dictionaries, big words, perfect words, journeys and books. My feet never touched the ground.)