Friday, August 6, 2010

Review: Gail Caldwell's Let's Take The Long Way Home - by Louise Tripp

Gail Caldwell's latest book, Let's Take The Long Way Home comes out next Tuesday (August 10th). Here is my review:

I am just going to write this as candidly as possible, just as Caldwell wrote her novel: this book touched my heart in a way so profound that I am fumbling over how to even begin to talk about it. Saying that life is so fragile, as is love and friendship and allowing yourself to open up and know someone and be known, almost feels too cliche to speak the words. I cannot possibly tell you about this book РI am not the writer that Gail Caldwell is. But Let's Take The Long Way Home took my breath away Рanother clich̩, but it's true. It's full of so much profundity, so many analogies and metaphors and stories that it's amazing that such a small book could hold it all. It's about death Рthe death of the author's best friend and fellow writer, Caroline Knapp. It's about their friendship. It's about Caldwell's life, her struggle with alcoholism. It's about beloved dogs and the way it feels to love a place, to love a river and the woods around it. Mostly, it's just about hope. I stayed up until 1:00am finishing it one night and sobbed, but just felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for having read it.

It made me miss people. It made me miss the friendships that used to be so deep and now have come and gone. It made me ache with longing for that feeling of belonging when you are with people who “get it.”

I cannot recommend it enough.

Some quotes from Let's Take The Long Way Home:

I would be the sensitive heroine, or doomed romantic, or radical bohemian – I was Hamlet, Icarus, Edith Wharton's Lily Bart. God forbid that I simply face who I was, which was somebody drunk and scared and on my way to being no one at all.” idea of a productive day, as both a child and an adult, was reading for hours and staring out the window.”

To people who have spent their lives thick with the bounty of other people, attachment itself is complex but assumed. For the introvert, it is a more nebulous territory.”

We lived here for each other, and for everyone else we loved within twenty miles, and for all the good reasons people live where they live. They need the view of a wheat field or an ocean; they need the smell of a thunderstorm or the sound of a city. Or they need to leave, so that they can invent what they need someplace else.”

Accepting a death sentence is like falling down a flight of stairs in slow motion. You take it in one bruise at a time – a blow, a landing, another short descent.”

Death is a divorce nobody asked for; to live through it is to find a way to disengage from what you thought you couldn't stand to lose.”

Hope in the beginning feels like such a violation of the loss, and yet without it we couldn't survive.”

The real trick is to let life, with all its ordinary missteps and regrets, be consistently more mysterious and alluring that its end.”

Louise Tripp grew up in North Carolina. She currently lives in Chicago, where she is revising her first YA novel and working in a public library. You can read her regular blog at

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