A Review of Craig Childs’ Soul of Nowhere

> basic info: (title, author, # of pages, price, pub date, category, publisher)

Soul of Nowhere is the title.
Craig Childs is the author.
231 pages is the length.
$13.95 is the price.
Back Bay is the latest publisher.
October 2003 is when they released it. It was originally published in 2002 by Sasquatch Books.
It falls into the category of Nature/Adventure.
The full title is actually Soul of Nowhere: Traversing Grace in a Rugged Land.

> why i wanted to read this book in the first place

Saw it in the confusingly designed Time Warner Book Group catalog. The title Soul of Nowhere appealed to my highschoolish mystic sensibilities. Since the description claimed the book details the more extreme/fascinating parts of the West, it seemed worth a look. I like the West, you know. It’s full of coyotes and sky. Plus, they’ve got the In-N-Out Burger out there, in some places. The son of Arthur "Digby" Sellers lives by the In-N-Out Burger in The Big Lebowski, which takes place in Los Angeles, which is in the West. (Those are good burgers.)

>facts about the author

Craig Childs is a frequent contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, which is one of the few radio stations you can get when driving in the more deserted parts of this country, unless you have XM Radio. His middle name is Leland. Other books by this naturalist/adventurer/desert ecologist include The Secret Knowledge of Water and several others with titles not quite as trippy. He has facial hair on the picture on the back cover of the book. A goatee, sort of. Plus, he has a wife and son. Colorado is where he makes his home now, but he was born in Arizona. In 2001, he won the Arizona Adult Author Award. There’s a song by George Strait that goes something like, "I’ve got oceanfront property in Arizona."

> completely randomly selected quote from this book

"I looked over the terrain, hunting for Devin and perhaps the next route. I thought of two men who recently drove to a canyon that skirts the far north end of this place. They parked a sports utility vehicle as far in as was possible, then walked for a three-hour tour. Curious about the convoluted land farther south, they kept going." (pg 117)

>interesting things you might not read if you read this book (stuff that appears before & after the main content)

Regan Choi has sturdy walking shoes. Christy G Turner and A Jacqueline Turner wrote a book called Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest. There is a publication called RALPH, where someone named Lolita Lark (a porn star?) apparently publishes work.

> songs going through my head as i read this book

"amber waves" by tori amos. "cowgirl in the sand" by neil young.

> people to whom i would recommend this book

tim leonard, sozan schellin, the suicidal man who jumped off niagara falls and lived, this tattooed homeless guy named hunter who used to kind of inhabit the spider house in Austin and claimed he lived in the wild without having a job for 10 years, gretel ehrlich, john madden

> what is going on with the cover

It has a very organic blend of purple and gold, which are also the school colors of Bellbrook High School, which is where several generations of Borondy’s have gone to school (not me). The picture is of the desert sands and maybe some mountains in the background. No people. A quote from the New York Times Book Review beneath the desert picture says, "Childs uses the desolate places he writes about as an existential testing ground where, in facing the prospect of his extinction, he discovers an abiding will to live." The book design was conceived by Jenny Wilkson.

> interesting places i read this book and other events that took place due to the karma of having it in my possession

The best thing I can say about the good luck this book brought me is that I didn’t develop my current illness until after reading it and moving on to another. It didn’t help me pick up babes, though that probably has more to do with me than with the book. In short, this book didn’t make me more popular, whiten my teeth, increase my penis size, or bring me a windfall of money. But it also didn’t make me lose a tooth or contract gangrene. I’d give is a 5.5 out of 10 on the karma scale. Oh, and mainly I read it on the way to work and during downtimes are work — which are more plentiful than up times.

> what i think John F Kennedy would say about this book if he were still alive

"It’s a pretty decent read. I especially liked the part where they find the child’s skull."

> suggestions for other topics for the writer to cover in future books

I would like to see Craig Childs write a cookbook. I think he would be very good at that.

> books i’ve read that are kind of like this one but not really

Nothing really comes to mind. I would say it has shades of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but I only read, like, 8 pages of that. Anything meditative and adventurous probably has common threads with Soul of Nowhere. This reminds me: back when it was a really popular novel, I bought Cold Mountain and couldn’t get into it at all. (I’m not implying there’s much similarity between the two books.) The other day I met this girl at a cafe who said the exact same thing about Cold Mountain. Which begs the question: Why does a book like Cold Mountain sell and a book like Soul of Nowhere doesn’t? They’re making a movie of Cold Mountain, too. Count me out.

> things i ate that might have influenced my perception of this book and led me to make the above comments

Hmmm. I probably had Subway and Wendy’s during my time with this book. That kind of food can distort any form of literature.

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