Dimensions: 256 Pages, 6.3 × 9.45 × 0.79 in
Published: February 7, 2006
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1400062489
ISBN - 13: 9781400062485
About the Book
The chief book critic for "The Boston Globe" and winner of the Pulitzer Prize beautifully evokes her life, in this exquisite memoir, from her 1950s childhood in the Texas Panhandle through the 1960s and beyond.
Read from the Book
Poised at the heart of so much open land, Amarillo, too, sprawled in a sort of languid disregard, as though territorial hegemony might make up for all that loneliness. Route 66 cut through the center of town as a streamlined reminder of what was out there to the west, and the trucks roared through town day and night, slaves to hope and white-line fever, heading for California or just somewhere else. The steak houses and truck stops at either end of the city confirmed these great distances, offering twenty-four-ounce T-bones along with the diesel fuel, and the neon from the all-night signs must have looked from the sky like paths of light—bright flashes of pink and green and white as the town grew sparser, flanked on the highway to the east and west alike by miles of open country. Downtown in the 1950s was only a few blocks long, and the two banks, the two movie theaters, the Silver Grill Cafeteria, and the Amarillo Grain Exchange were all within shooting distance of one another. The Mary E. Bivins Memorial Library stood on the outskirts of these necessities, on Tenth and Polk, a generous old Georgian mansion with two sets of stone steps up to its wide verandas. The place had been built as a private home at the turn of the century, and its interiors still held traces of domestic calm— the foyer smelled wonderfully of floor wax and printer’s ink and no doubt years’ worth of muted librarians’ cologne. The books were spread luxuriantly over four floo
From the Publisher
In this exquisitely rendered memoir set on the high plains of
Texas, Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell transforms into art what
it is like to come of age in a particular time and place. A Strong
West Wind begins in the 1950s in the wilds of the Texas Panhandle-a
place of both boredom and beauty, its flat horizons broken only by
oil derricks, grain elevators, and church steeples. Its story
belongs to a girl who grew up surrounded by dust storms and cattle
ranches and summer lightning, who took refuge from the vastness of
the land and the ever-present wind by retreating into books. What
she found there, from renegade women to men who lit out for the
territory, turned out to offer a blueprint for her own future.
Caldwell would grow up to become a writer, but first she would have
to fall in love with a man who was every mother's nightmare, live
through the anguish and fire of the Vietnam years, and defy the
father she adored, who had served as a master sergeant in the
Second World War.
A Strong West Wind is a memoir of culture and history-of fathers
and daughters, of two world wars and the passionate rebellions of
the sixties. But it is also about the mythology of place and the
evolution of a sensibility: about how literature can shape and even
anticipate a life.
Caldwell possesses the extraordinary ability to illuminate the
desires, stories, and lives of ordinary people. Written with
humanity, urgency, and beautiful restraint, A Strong West Wind is a
magical and unforgettable book, destined to become an American
About the Author
Gail Caldwell is the chief book critic for The Boston Globe, where she has been a staff writer and critic since 1985. In 2001, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism. She is also an avid rower. Caldwell lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Advance praise for A Strong West Wind
"I loved A Strong West Wind. [Caldwell] writes of her adventures in
the sixties and seventies, and the quest for truth in California,
with the authentic voice of the children who once made life hell
for the 'Greatest Generation' and in the process turned out pretty
"Gail Caldwell's quiet, burnished memoir is a story of a life's
affections-for her Texas parents, for the sere landscape of the
panhandle, and for the road paved with book upon precious book that
runs in both directions: far away and home again."
"Gail Caldwell''s book measures the sweep of one life against
literature, history, legends of Texas, and the infallible truth of
real feeling. This is a brave and moving work."
"An elegant memoir. Gail Caldwell performs something like
alchemy-taking the base metals of the Texas Panhandle badlands and
turning them into pure gold."