A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell
A Memoir

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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.

About Gail Caldwell

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Gail Caldwell is the former chief book critic for The Boston Globe, where she was a staff writer and critic for more than twenty years. In 2001, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. She is also the author of A Strong West Wind, a memoir of her native Texas. Caldwell lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Published December 18, 2007 by Random House. 258 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Strong West Wind

The New York Times

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While Caldwell alludes to "my tragic sense of self" and her need "for Anna Karenina to throw herself under that train, so that I would never have to," she has obviously gone to great lengths — and perhaps too far — to avoid writing yet another memoir of dysfunctionality.

Apr 02 2006 | Read Full Review of A Strong West Wind: A Memoir

The New York Times

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Perhaps if, like Caldwell, you grew up in the badlands — in the landlocked town of Amarillo in the Bible Belt, surrounded by infinite miles of wind-swept nowhere — you can't help it if the myth of Texas gets wrapped around your own.

Apr 02 2006 | Read Full Review of A Strong West Wind: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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Nonetheless, Caldwell comes through as a wise and winning woman—her descriptive passages on college life in Austin in the '60s and '70s are wonderfully smart, moving and sympathetic—and she emerges from A Strong West Wind a memorable narrator.

Dec 05 2005 | Read Full Review of A Strong West Wind: A Memoir

Book Reporter

In A STRONG WEST WIND, author Gail Caldwell divides her life into parts: the first thirty years spent in Texas, and what came after that, her post-Texas life.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strong West Wind: A Memoir

Bookmarks Magazine

Charles Matthews Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars "A Strong West Wind, Gail Caldwell’s ruminative memoir, eloquently articulates how geographical place and historical moment influence feelings, opinions, and identities.

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of A Strong West Wind: A Memoir

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