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The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs (Samuel and Althea Stroum Books) Hardcover – March 15, 2010

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The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs (Samuel and Althea Stroum Books) + Richard Hugo: Kicking the Loose Gravel Home
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Product Details

  • Series: Samuel and Althea Stroum Books
  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; First Edition edition (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295989645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295989648
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Displays how two poets, Hugo and McCue, and one great photographer may bring history alive in the imagination and create a unique contribution to the historical record.

(Daniel Lamberton Pacific Northwest Quarterly 2011-01-00)

This book is a treasure, a big open car going far and wide to find the source of poetry.... The design of our experience is a rich ambidexterity: McCue reaches outward into the world by visiting the towns and observing them closely while reaching inward through her familiarity with the Hugo Archives and her own acute poetic sensibility. The result is a reading of the poems that is remarkable informed.

(Western American Literature)

As it explores—even bolsters—his mystique as the poet of the modern American West, it simultaneously critiques that romanticized vision. Its brilliant strategy is to complicate genre…. The photographs themselves are enough to recommend this gorgeously produced book. Often stark, these black and white portraits of places Hugo's poems memorialize illuminate skeletal glimmerings of towns….

(Rain Taxi)

This is a book for people who love pilgrimage. Twenty-four of Hugo's best poems of place are sandwiched in between Randlett's photographs and McCue's tightly written, deceptively broad essays.


Hugo's own story merges with McCue's observations and interviews with the poet's friends (including Lois Welch, Bill Kittredge and Annick Smith) in a way that adds texture, detail and insight to a journey that's both literary and deeply personal.

(Lively Times)

Whether you love poetry or just love to read of those pursuing their passions The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs by Frances McCue is for you.

(The Philipsburg Mail)

This is a book worthy of its subject: smart, beautifully written, with stark images and poignant reticences.

(City Living)

An audacious new book from the University of Washington Press offers one great way to mark April as National Poetry Month. McCue's book is an ambitious amalgam of intentions. There are components of homage, literary criticism, biography and anthology all relating to Hugo. There is significant environmental reportage inspired by Hugo's poetic observations. Lacing all this together is McCue's own memoir recounting road trips designed to trace Hugo's steps..Randlett's stark photographs drive the point home—Hugo found things to love in the unlikeliest places.

(Bookmonger Bellingham Herald)

The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs offers a beautifully vivid and poignant meditation on the landscape of the heart and how we are shaped by the poetics of place.

(Kim Barnes, author of A Country Called Home)

This book.. is an astute psychological portrait of Hugo and a superb reintroduction to his work.

From the Inside Flap

Poet Richard Hugo visited places and wrote about them, including towns in Washington, Idaho, and Montana--especially their bars and diners. Part travelogue, memoir, and literary scholarship, this book follows Frances McCue and Mary Randlett in their search for the towns that inspired the poems. Their essays and photographs--and 23 of Hugo's poems--offer a fresh view of Hugo's Northwest.--Frances McCue is artistic director and cofounder of the Richard Hugo House in Seattle and writer in residence at the University of Washington.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tommer Peterson on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that I grew up in western Washington in a family that travelled extensively by car, so my reading of this fine work is colored by personal memories of many of these small towns. I didn't discover the work of Richard Hugo until much later in life.

McCue and Randlett are the perfect team to tell this story. The photographs and commentary both complement the poems and provide just enough of a backdrop to put the reader in the location. What is most admirable, is the light touch that is evident. The essays manage the difficult task of illuminating the poems without competing with them, yet stand on their own and are delight to read. McCue is to be complimented for her restraint. The combination of the text, images, and poems really captures the texture and atmosphere of these small communities and gives the poetry a good home.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Richard Hugo's chief creative process was to visit a place and let it "trigger" (his word) images and ideas for his poems. Many of his poems are named after the places and towns that were their inspiration. And many of them are located in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, and Montana) where Hugo lived most of his life.

The idea behind THE CAR THAT BROUGHT YOU HERE STILL RUNS was to visit the places and towns of the Pacific Northwest that triggered some of Hugo's most distinctive poems. Frances McCue is a poet herself and a long-time admirer of Hugo's poetry. Even before writing this book occurred to her, she had been visiting some of Hugo's triggering towns. When she proposed the book to the University of Washington Press, it assigned Mary Randlett, noted octogenarian photographer of the Northwest, to accompany McCue to the towns featured in the book. They have collaborated on a handsome book that combines selected Hugo poems, McCue's text, and about forty Randlett photographs in black-and-white.

If you a fan of Hugo's poetry, THE CAR THAT BROUGHT YOU HERE STILL RUNS is highly recommended. If you are not a fan, it still is a worthwhile book, embodying as it does an intriguing concept and having as its subject a poet who, if not quite great, is nonetheless substantial enough (as a man as well as a poet) to merit the several hours necessary to absorb the book.

I fall into the second category. On the two occasions I have read it closely (most recently, reading his 1973 book of poems "The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir"), I ended up rather neutral concerning Hugo's poetry. Now, after having read McCue's book, I have a much better understanding of what Hugo was about.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Poi Sen Pen on June 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While many books have been written about the poet, Richard Hugo, none have mined the depth and richness of his poetry the way this one does. He was an incredible poet. More than that, he was an incredible man. This is a book that reveals so much more than the man or his poetry. It is a journey into the soul of America's greatest poet of the 20th century.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CR on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fine introduction to Richard Hugo. If you have ever taken a road trip and imagined things about the small out of the way places you have seen, this is the book for you. Most of the time the reality of a place is not as interesting as the imagined impression but this collection seems to meld these two ideas and really does come close to reality but in a far more emotional way. It softens the sometimes harsh reality of both the man and the places.
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