2008 - An Inside Passage

by Kurt Caswell


Texas Tech University President's Book Award (second place)

"In these luminous essays on wanderlust, Caswell . . . embraces travel writer Bruce Chatwin's contention that walking is a poetic act that can cure the world of its ills. . . . His travels culminate in a Death Valley vision that replaces his pervasive sense of dislocation with the answer to a question that has nagged him for years: what is home? "—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“[Caswell is] more the inspired prose poet of the outdoor garden we all inhabit, describing it more beautifully than most, as when, after monsoon rains come in the fall, ‘the flowers want to bloom again in a second coming: desert globemallow, blue dick, storksbill, sacred datura, chicory, paintbrush, beardtongue and Arizona lupine. Some cacti, too: prickly pear and desert barrel. The acacia or catclaw, and mesquite roll out of the dry washes, entangling anything, dog or man or javalina, that tries to pass.’ They caught me.”—Alan Cheuse, Dallas Morning News

“The author moves from place to place, examining the natural world around him with scrupulous care and a keen, sympathetic eye, and examining even more intensely the seasonal transformations in his own heart and mind. By the end, I felt I had traveled along with him, sharing his sorrows and his epiphanies, his vigor and courage and ceaseless quest for experience and understanding. This is a memoir of extraordinary revelation, which transforms the reader as well as the author.”—Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books

“Kurt Caswell has mastered the noble tradition of the essay as walk-around, and he reads the contours of the land, his mind, and the urgency of companions who sometimes choose to accompany him on his solo journey with delicacy, generosity and a sharp attentiveness to the possibility of new life, in all its harmonious contradictions. This is lovely writing and musing.”—Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay and Totally, Tenderly, Tragically

“A fine debut by a new voice in American nature writing.”—Dennis Covington, author of Salvation on Sand Mountain

 Return to Previous Winners

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow