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A Strong West Wind: A Memoir Paperback – January 9, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Gail was born in the Bible Belt of the Texas Panhandle in 1951. Stricken with polio shortly before the discovery of the Salk vaccine, learning to stand up, then remain upright and eventually walk was a real struggle for this tenacious young girl. Her sister Pam, older by two years, taught Gail to read at age four, and this opened the door to a magical world for her. She seemed to absorb books; they were her escape as well as her internal destination.
Gail was a shy child in a fairly boring town where the winds howled ominously and the horizon seemed to go on forever. She loved fiction, especially war novels; as a teenager she wrote sad poetry and dreamed of leaving the barren Texas landscape behind her.
The quiet bookworm rebelled as adolescents often do. Smoking, rock-and-roll, and hanging out with friends became her new interests. Her first serious boyfriend --- who appropriately could be called a parent's nightmare --- hung around for two years. The lifelong closeness she had felt to her father dissolved as he and Gail seemed to be on opposite sides of every issue.
She enrolled at Texas Tech, but her years of serious reading did not translate into her being a model student. She switched majors every semester and was more interested in world events, especially the Vietnam War, than her studies. She was arrested in 1970 for possession of marijuana; the charges were later dropped but the arrest widened the schism with her father.Read more ›
This book amazingly evokes the Amarillo of many years ago. Yes, the winds were/are horrific. Yes, the political climate was/is ultraconservative. I could not help but have an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for many of the feelings, landmarks, and memories she, in my opinion, lovingly conveys. I was taken aback that some of the other reviewers appear somewhat offended by the author's rendition of the city. However, Amarillo is not for everyone. Because Gail chose not make it her permanent home, I viewed this as a testament to her desire and courage to outstandingly succeed (come on, people, we're talking the Pulitzer here) in a world and profession probably unavailable to her in the Texas Panhandle.
Broad strokes rather than brass tacks. For those unacquainted with the northern plains of Texas, the prose is beautifully evocative. I was fascinated with the successful combination of lyricism, southern "down hominess", and, yet, the in-your-face bravado of a Texas Panhandle native. It was very telling to see how her world of books/reading shaped her life/outlook in tandem with the Caldwell family dynamics. Viewing one's youthful world more through a parent's eyes is hardly specific to the South, even if it is, perhaps, more of a mainstay.Read more ›
What I found inside A STRONG WEST WIND by Gail Caldwell was an astonishing array of similarities to my own early existence, yet creating polar opposite results in later years. Caldwell's early cognizance of life in the panhandle mirrored my own on so many levels; both having a deep love of books, considering in some innate way our own domicile to be the center of the universe, an unquestioning admiration for our fathers, an upbringing deeply rooted in faith; and yet, despite these similarities, our own personal end results of world views hold gaping divergence.
I was at once, saddened by this book; that Caldwell would deviate so far from her conservative upbringing to embrace such things as war protests and the women's movement; and simultaneously touched by her visions of life and the poignancy of her perspectives. This is illustrative proof that personal discernment is in no way predicated on circumstantial similarity.
Though our views of the world are as far removed as is imaginable, I felt a kinship to the author and must admit with clarity that she is a brilliant and poetic writer. It has been thousands upon thousands of printed pages since I have found a wordsmith whose prose flowed with such emotion and fluidity. Political and social differences aside, it would be disingenuous of me and I would be failing to accurately represent this book if I did not give it the 5 stars it deserves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I agree that there are a lot of literary references here that those of us without an advanced literature degree won't understand but, that said, for the brilliant way Caldwell... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Brillantly written. Even if you do not agree with everthing she says, her writing is so beautiful that you would not be able to put down the book once you start reading.Published 2 months ago by Leo Li
Fantastic memoir of a fellow Texan. Beautiful writing and heartfelt descriptions of the tumult of growing up and leaving a conservative Texas home in the 60s and 70s. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Paula Gentner
Nothing can compare with her book about her friendship with the friend who died of cancer.Published 8 months ago by old lady
Good memoir by one of my favorite writers. I enjoyed learning more about her after reading her recent books.Published 11 months ago by FourCats
Nothing but excellent crafted writing! I loved her technique of writing and enjoyed her book. The books content is ok- but because she's an excellent writer I stayed with it.Published 11 months ago by S. S. Otis