When CNN citizen journalist Neal Moore slid his canoe into the headwaters of the Mississippi River to begin a 2,300-mile odyssey across the midsection of the United States, he was acutely aware of another American who filled his tales with what he saw and heard along the river: Mark Twain. Neal was doing what every self-respecting Twain-enthusiast wishes to do. He was on The River. And in it. And alongside it. He was in bright sun and harm's way. Neal was attracting characters as they attracted him, and their stories poured forth. Whether interviewing a Delta musician singing the economic blues, an Ojibwe dancer sharing a secret tradition, or an inmate doing 25 to life at "The Farm," Moore's stories are imbued with the most common of all American traits: optimism.