The Here Within There

“To me, a road map is the printed lyrics to a siren’s song where highways and rivers are like stanzas, and the little circles indicating towns are notes — some flat, some sharp, a few off-key.”

from Here, There, Elsewhere

by William Least Heat-Moon

I used to think I was peculiar for my love of maps and the desire they spur in me, but I’ve come to see enough references like this in my reading to understand that there is a certain mindset that loves to sit before them and plan imaginary trips, guessing what the road will be like and what might be seen along the way.

Is it the same for you?

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3 Comments on “The Here Within There”


  1. When I was young, my mom took my sister and me to see my great grandmother. Every weekend. While I did enjoy sitting and chatting more than most kids probably would have, inevitably, conversation turned to what I deemed “boring adult talk,” and I was left looking for something to do. TV sucked on Sunday afternoons (unless there was a Godzilla movie on), and even I eventually grew tired of drawing pictures of things in the sun room. I’d read all the books in the house (for some reason, I never brought my own), and that left me with maps.

    My great grandmother had a really cool world atlas and a stack of road maps that I assume, now, must have belonged to my grandfather, who drove a truck for awhile. Sunday afternoons were spent in the sun room with state maps unfolded all around me, tracing routes with my fingers and imagining what it would be like to hop in a car and just drive. I flipped through the atlas so frequently that in school, I seemed like a geography prodigy.

    As you know, my first novel is about a family road trip. To this day, there are few things I like more than just driving. Even with GPS devices, I still prefer physical maps. I love seeing the world laid out before me on sheets of paper and letting my imagine wander. I suspect I always will.

  2. Pete Says:

    I’m a sucker for maps, the older and yellower the better. I didn’t realize Least Heat-Moon was still writing. I liked parts of River-Horse but the book was much too long, and really dragged in the second half. Blue Highways has been on my shelf, unread, for ten years now.

  3. Averil Dean Says:

    I’ll have to show this post to my husband. He would totally agree.


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