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Way Off the Road

Celebrated roving correspondent for "CBS News Sunday Morning" and bestselling author Bill Geist serves up a rollicking look at some small-town Americans and their offbeat ways of life. "In rural Kansas, I asked our motel desk clerk for the name of the best restaurant in the area. After mulling it over, he answered: 'I'd have to say the Texaco, 'cuz the Shell don't have no microwave.'" Throughout his career, Bill Geist's most popular stories have been about slightly odd but loveable individuals. Coming on the heels of his 5,600-mile RV trip across our fair land is "Way Off the Road," a hilarious and compelling mix of stories about the folks featured in Geist's segments, along with observations on his twenty years of life on the road. Written in the deadpan style that has endeared him to millions, Geist shares tales of eccentric individuals, such as the ninety-three-year-old pilot-paperboy who delivers to his far-flung subscribers by plane; the Arizona mailman who delivers mail via horseback down the walls of the Grand Canyon; the Muleshoe, Texas, anchorwoman who delivers the news from her bedroom (occasionally wearing her bathrobe); and the struggling Colorado entrepreneur who finds success employing a sewer vacuum to rid Western ranchers of problematic prairie dogs. Geist also takes us to events such as the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival (celebrating an inspiring bird that survived decapitation, hired an agent, and went on the road for eighteen months) and Sundown Days in Hanlontown, Iowa, where the town marks the one day a year when the sun sets directly between the railroad tracks Along the wacky and wonderful way, Geist shows us firsthand how life in fly-over America can be odd, strangely fascinating, hysterical, and anything but boring. "To say it very simply, freezer burn may very well have set in." --neighbor on the frozen dead guy kept on ice in a backyard shed in Nederland, Colorado. "Everybody loves a parade; we were just geographically challenged." --David Harrenstein, organizer of a parade in tiny Whalan, Minnesota, where viewers are in motion and the "marchers" stand still. "We haven't lost anyone off these switchbacks in at least ten days" --Mailman Charlie Chamberlain, leading us on horseback 2,500 feet down the sheer walls of the Grand Canyon. "Ours are the finest cow chips in the world today," --Kirk Fisher, enthusiast, in Beaver, Oklahoma, world cow-chip capital and cow- chip exporter. "We live out in the middle of the corn and bean fields, and there's not a whole lot to get excited about, you know?" --Dan Moretz, on celebrating the day the sun sets in the middle of the railroad tracks in Hanlontown, Iowa. "It's like drilling for oil; sometimes you come up dry." --Gay Balfour, who sucks problematic prairie dogs out of the ground with a sewer vacuum in Cortez, Colorado. "All you have to do is beat the flies to it," --Michael "Roadkill" Coffman on the secrets of cooking with roadkill outside Lawrence, Kansas. "I ain't gonna brake til I see God!" --driver named "Red Dog," taking the track at a figure-eight school bus race in Bithlo, Florida. "It's a gift; you either got it or you don't." --Lee Wheelis, world watermelon-seed-spitting champion, Luling, Texas. "I am the mayor, the board, the secretary-treasurer, the librarian, the bartender --that's my most important title --the cook, the floor sweeper, the police chief, and I have the books for the cemetery, if someone wants to buy a plot." --Elsie Eiler, the sole citizen of Monowi, Nebraska.
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About the Author

BILL GEIST is an Emmy Award-winning correspondent and commentator for CBS News, appearing weekly on "CBS News Sunday Morning" and contributing to other programs such as the "CBS Evening News" and "48 Hours," as well as to CBS Sports coverage of the Olympic Games, the SuperBowl, the World Series, and the Final Four. He is the bestselling author of six previous books: "Little League Confidential"; "The Big Five-Oh! --Fearing, Facing, and Fighting 50"; "City Slickers"; "Fore! Play" (it's about golf); "Monster Trucks and Hair-in-a-Can --Who Says America Doesn't Make Anything Anymore?"; and "The Zucchini Plague and Other Tales of Suburbia." Geist and his wife, Jody, have two children, Willie and Libby, and live in New York City.


Writers from John Steinbeck to Bill Bryson to Charles Kuralt have made generations of people smile with their wry, humorous looks at American life off the interstate. Small towns retain a sense of community spirit that is all but lost in big cities. Little towns are proud of small accomplishments-a headless chicken that lived for several months, a hamburger place located in a church, a parade that stands still and lets visitors walk around it-that would often be overlooked in the crowded news pages of a metropolis. Geist is a commentator for CBS News (as was Kuralt), and his travels around America showing the weird, the wild, and the wonderful are popular features. Earphones Award-winning reader Patrick Lawlor captures the humor of Geist's writing, never presenting these people as small-town hicks but as clever grass-roots entrepreneurs who know how to seize some obscure person or event and make it into a celebration that people actually want to attend. It's a bit sad to say, but for economic survival many of these off-the-wall spots depend on getting tourists to their peculiar festivals. Listeners will enjoy the stories of these people who have, indeed, taken lemons and made some mighty sweet lemonade. Highly recommended for all collections.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A breezy account of [Geist's] travels off the beaten, and sometimes left-for-dead, paths." --"New York Times Book Review""Wise and funny."--"Chicago Sun Times""Geist genuinely delights in his finds, and readers will, too.""--Library Journal""Driving around the country through the eyes and words of Geist is precious. Clearly, Kuralt didn't locate "all" the strange things." --"Deseret Morning News"

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