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by Adrienne Petterson 2006

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The Way Out - A True Story of Ruin and Survival
by Craig Childs
Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0-316-61066-6
Published January 2005 - Hardcover - 277 pages - $23.95

It takes a special kind of person, with special kinds of friends, to pursue and enjoy the desert southwest to the extent that Craig Childs does.  There are beautiful places to visit and check out, but voluntarily putting yourself out there, alone, with next to nothing with you, is a little extreme to most people's thinking.  What type of person does this?  His ex-policeman friend Dirk, for one; Craig is a definite; and anyone else fed up with organized life as we know it.  Some people just want out now and then.  Childs writes with grace and an elegant ease as he brings the desert and its beauty and the surrounds to vivid life.  He and his best friend Dirk head off for two weeks into unknown territory and with very little with them, other than their wits, their grit determination, and a passion so powerful they feel they have to be there.  Along this journey, we learn about their early lives and how they both got to get so much out of the bright red rocks, sand, smells, "people", and desert plants and water.  We're also taken on trips he took with his father, when as a boy, he would learn many valuable lessons, both about life and nature.  The desert held a seductive fascination that drew him back time and time again, and in so doing, he came to see the world through different eyes.  Having a friend to go with him made a difference, too.  When he says, "Climbing this chute of loose boulders is an act of pure meditation.  Every rock has a center of balance.  Information bypasses the fat of our brains, straight to the spinal cord, absorbed by our skin, carried to the bloodstream," I get what this this time in the southwest means to them.
Conclusion - A must-read - the imagery is beautiful and quite moving.
Please read my review of another Childs book, The Animal Dialogues - Uncommon Encounters in the Wild.

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