A Strong West Wind: A Memoir.
By Gail Caldwell. 228 pp. Random House. $24.95.
Readers may wish to read Joyce Johnson’s review from the April 2, Sunday New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/)
Caldwell has been in the northeast for some decades now, along with her Pulitzer Prize for book reviews in the Boston Globe. Her own words are the most compelling invitation to read her volume on her life, especially her Texas home. She writes that "my want for Texas was so veiled in guilt and ambiguity that I couldn't claim it for the sadness it was. I missed the people and the land and the sky — my God I missed the sky — but most of all I missed the sense of placid mystery the place evoked, endemic there as heat is to thunder. You can be gone for years from Texas, I now believe, and still be felled by such memories.” Then there’s "Mine is a story that begins with the fragments of dreams on the most desolate of prairies, where a child came of age listening to the keening of dust storms drown out the strains of Protestant hymns."
Listen to this one, “The past has no compass. I know this now as surely as I know that the land itself has a voice, capable of keening. Anyone who finds this a pathetic fallacy has never lain on a rock in high wind. It's hard listening, God in the vortex and all that, because the answers there usually have nothing to do with the questions posed. You have to walk out into it to learn anything."
Further on, while unloading her father’s shotgun for his protection she "realized how I must look — a barefoot woman in the yard with a rifle in her arms — and I remembered where I was and thought, Oh hell, it's Texas, no one would even care." Place this one on the shelf for literature.