Road Angels: Searching For Home On America's Coast of Dreams

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9780060698683: Road Angels: Searching For Home On America's Coast of Dreams

Life is a road, and on every road as in every life, there are angels.

Sometimes big events have small origins. There was no divorce, no loss of job, no dramatic crisis of faith and self-confidence. It was, at heart, the accretion of little things, like a deepening blanket of snow, that finally caused the branch to snap and sent me careening back to the West Coast from my comfortable home in the woods of northern Minnesota.

Let me tell you how it happened.

Author Kent Nerburn was feeling stuck in the middle: middle age, midway in a career, and in the middle of the Midwest. Fearing that his passion and spirit for life were dimming and worried that his family needed to escape the harsher realities of Minnesota life, Nerburn set out from the stark, frozen landscape of a northern winter to drive alone down the coastal roads of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Yes, this road is layered with ghosts. The good padres, the less good padrones, the Indians who have been all but forgotten, the workers and the laborers and the migrants and the serfs; the wealthy and the desperate, the starlets and the Okies, the families coming soon to their cul-de-sac lives.

All have traveled this road in search of their own private El Dorado. And now I too am among them, just one more sojourner searching for waters to slake my unquenchable American thirst.

Ride shotgun with Kent Nerburn as he uncovers the myths and dreams of America's West Coast. Road Angels is a search for home that brings us face-to-face with unexpected places and extraordinary people -- a journey of profound insights about how the land we claim affects every aspect of our lives.

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About the Author:

Kent Nerburn received his Ph.D. in religion and art from Graduate Theological Union in conjunction with the University of California at Berkeley. Formerly a sculptor of religious art, he now devotes himself to crafting books. He is the author of Simple Truths, Letters to My Son, and Small Graces, as well as several books on Native American wisdom.

From Publishers Weekly:

Bestselling author and native Minnesotan Nerburn (Simple Truths) navigates the West Coast from Washington to California. "[N]o divorce, no loss of job, no dramatic crisis of faith and self-confidence" led Nerburn away from his home in beautiful, isolated northern Minnesota, and his wife and his 10-year-old son, only a sense that the West Coast is his old lover: "Until I put her out of my mind... I'll never be at peace with this cold outpost that we now call home." Revisiting his young-adult haunts of 20 years ago, he hunts "street-level experience the ordinary people, the casual encounters, the ad hoc turns and serendipitous decisions." In various encounters a Native American, a student hitchhiker, a log-truck driver Nerburn captures the vocal and narrative styles of people who otherwise seem like caricatures (noble Native, ditzy student, gruff worker). Though he wants to explore "the myth of the West and the road" via these voices, for the book's first two-thirds he ruminates interminably on the misery of the trip. Cogent insights into 1960s counterculture's smalltown legacies ("Their mendicant lifestyle has been reduced to a pauper's huddling inside of half-finished huts") are overwhelmed by facile observations ("cities... feel like places where will and ambition matter more than sensitivity and compassion"). Nerburn's ingenuousness at the West's many changes including one improbable moment when he doesn't understand the ordering box in a fast-food drive-through lane smacks of pretense when one knows that he maintains his own Web site (www.kentnerburn.com). In the last third, he forsakes his midlife crisis for a tough, tight account of a day in wealthy, suburban Mill Valley and politicized Berkeley and Oakland's mean streets, finally achieving the immediacy and palpability he seeks. 6-city West Coast author tour; 15-city NPR tour. (June)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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