A Strong West Wind: A Memoir

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Random House Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
4 Reviews
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 classic.

From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - hfineisen - LibraryThing

Caldwell fans will have a no brainer and any writer wannabe will want to add this to their list. But for the rest of the readers, Caldwell writes as if she's sprawled in your living room or sharing one of your pockets on a cold day. I picked up the audio and the print. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - whitreidtan - LibraryThing

I was drawn to the idea of a memoir written by a literary critic in which she examines the pull of her Texas childhood on the woman she grows into being, who acknowledges the importance of the books ... Read full review


Title Page
Chapter Three
Chapter Five
Chapter Seven
Chapter Nine
Chapter Eleven

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About the author (2007)

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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