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Extended Audio Sample A Strong West Wind: A Memoir Audiobook, by Gail Caldwell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.71 out of 53.71 out of 53.71 out of 53.71 out of 53.71 out of 5 3.71 (24 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gail Caldwell Narrator: Nicole Poole Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2017 ISBN: 9781440797736
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In this exquisitely rendered memoir set on the high plains of Texas, Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell transforms into art what it is like to come of age in a particular time and place. A Strong West Wind begins in the 1950s in the wilds of the Texas Panhandle–a place of both boredom and beauty, its flat horizons broken only by oil derricks, grain elevators, and church steeples. Its story belongs to a girl who grew up surrounded by dust storms and cattle ranches and summer lightning, who took refuge from the vastness of the land and the ever-present wind by retreating into books. What she found there, from renegade women to men who lit out for the territory, turned out to offer a blueprint for her own future. Caldwell would grow up to become a writer, but first she would have to fall in love with a man who was every mother’s nightmare, live through the anguish and fire of the Vietnam years, and defy the father she adored, who had served as a master sergeant in the Second World War.

A Strong West Wind is a memoir of culture and history–of fathers and daughters, of two world wars and the passionate rebellions of the sixties. But it is also about the mythology of place and the evolution of a sensibility: about how literature can shape and even anticipate a life.

Caldwell possesses the extraordinary ability to illuminate the desires, stories, and lives of ordinary people. Written with humanity, urgency, and beautiful restraint, A Strong West Wind is a magical and unforgettable book, destined to become an American classic.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 2/11/2014

    " Not what you'd expect in a memoir with a windmill on the cover. Bookish Boomer leaves Amarillo for school, becomes hippie radical, goes to grad school, moves to Boston, becomes writer. She IS a writer--this is very well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane Wolfe | 2/8/2014

    " Parts of this memoir were quite thoughtful. I enjoy reading about a writer's reading history, the books that meant something to them. Caldwell and I were born the same year, so her perspective on the Vietnam War and the women's movement was intriguing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mickey | 2/3/2014

    " Fathers and daughters have a bond that can't be separated by time or distance. Similarities between the woman in the book and her father and my father and myself were numerous. The words "coffee and camels" brought so many memories back. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brandon Kurtich | 1/28/2014

    " I cannot say that I was fan of this memoir at all. I usually love memoirs, especially about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances, but this was a complete bore. Just a warning, Caldwell makes a TON of references to classic literary works which might go over some people's heads (like mine for one). It also seems like Caldwell uses these references to just show her large literary knowledge. Overall, just a book filled with literary references with some fillers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 1/25/2014

    " This book has become one of my favorite books, it merits being placed next to Kathleen Norris's Dakota. There's just something about life on the vast plains that distills a writer's voice into crystalline clarity. Caldwell's experiences of growing up in Amarillo in the late '60s and '70's are very much akin to my own. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Webb | 1/7/2014

    " This is an interesting coming of age memoir. I was a teenager in the 60's, so I did relate to much of her story. However, the story did seem a bit disconnected at times. I enjoyed Caldwell's writing style, prosaic and thought provoking. A quick read and entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 1/5/2014

    " I had a hard time with the first half but loved the second half. Due to many references to books, if you are literary (I am not) then you would appreciate the first half. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleenc | 1/3/2014

    " Powerful writing by someone whoe admits their humanity "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annette | 11/21/2013

    " I read this for book club and so enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I was the only member in the club who did enjoy it. It paralleld my own life in so many ways. I guess one has to be a boomer to enjoy it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jmaylone | 11/6/2013

    " This was a wonder memoir about growing up in Armadillo Tx. Gail writes with a lot of visual imagery. Written after her friend Caroline Knapp has died as described in "Let's Take The Long Way Home". Pulitzer prize winner and a very gifted, poetic writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie Griffin | 10/10/2013

    " excellent memoir - perhaps it was just the time period of the sixties/seventies that was fun for me. Good combo of narrative and reflection. Look forward to reading more of her "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tina Brister | 10/10/2013

    " I wanted to like this book..... But just couldn't finish it. The author seems more interested with impressing the reader with literary references and background description that leaves the narration, story-telling and general flow of the book severely lacking. Put simply.... It was just boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paula Matuskey | 5/6/2013

    " Interesting memoir of the author's upbringing in Texas and then her move to the East, laced with references to books she loved. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lulu | 1/7/2013

    " Caldwell is a book reviewer- not someone who's memoirs you want to read unless you're a book geek. If you are though, you'll like them. She's a decent writer, brings a nice narrative to her life, and it's fun to see a reviewer put herself on the creative line. She does a good job. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew Ashcroft | 12/26/2011

    " Best book I've read in a while. Her writing is amazingly beautiful and erudite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 5/18/2011

    " Beautifully written, thought provoking, and erudite memoir by the book critic for the Boston Globe. She evokes the Texas panhandle of her 1950's upbringing, the years spent in war protest, and her ever-present love of books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 prairiesister | 4/28/2011

    " I read most of this book, but got annoyed at all the author name dropping and character comparisons. I love a lot of what she wrote, but not enough to finish the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy B | 1/3/2011

    " Thought it wad a very good read. Of course I love anything Texas but it was also interesting because of all the literary references. I think people would enjoy it even if you have never been to Texas! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 12/19/2010

    " Thought it wad a very good read. Of course I love anything Texas but it was also interesting because of all the literary references. I think people would enjoy it even if you have never been to Texas! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynnie | 10/25/2010

    " Has some good prose but light reading

    After several months...I only had a few pages left and lost interest. Not even interested enough to say I read the whole book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jmaylone | 8/29/2010

    " This was a wonder memoir about growing up in Armadillo Tx. Gail writes with a lot of visual imagery. Written after her friend Caroline Knapp has died as described in "Let's Take The Long Way Home". Pulitzer prize winner and a very gifted, poetic writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 10/12/2009

    " I had a hard time with the first half but loved the second half. Due to many references to books, if you are literary (I am not) then you would appreciate the first half. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annette | 9/29/2009

    " I read this for book club and so enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I was the only member in the club who did enjoy it. It paralleld my own life in so many ways. I guess one has to be a boomer to enjoy it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleenc | 11/26/2008

    " Powerful writing by someone whoe admits their humanity "

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About the Author
Author Gail CaldwellGail Caldwell, the former chief book critic of The Boston Globe, received the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 2001. She is the author of two previous books: A Strong West Wind and Let’s Take the Long Way Home. A New York Times bestseller, Let’s Take the Long Way Home was the winner of the New England Independent Booksellers Association award for nonfiction. Caldwell lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
About the Narrator

Nicole Poole is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator, commercial voice talent, veteran soundpainter, and owner of the O. Gail Poole Collection. She is also a staunch supporter of the arts and travels around the globe with a mobile recording studio.