So what if someone does it better? The point of the game is joy.
—The Point of the Game
Advance Praise for Road Trip :
In Road Trip, essayist Mark Rozema takes us along on a journey over several decades, as he comes to terms with change and loss, including losing his father to Alzheimer’s disease. In prose clear and luminous as “stones at the bottom of the river,” he reminds us of the power of place as he describes growing up outside Flagstaff, Arizona. From there we range to the North Cascades, then to a cabin outside Fairbanks, Alaska, finding grace in unexpected places along the way. Next time you take a road trip, you’ll want Mark Rozema at the wheel; his lyric, engaging prose offers readers many moments of stunning beauty and much well-earned wisdom.
—Holly J. Hughes
Author of Sailing by Ravens, co-author of The Pen & The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, and editor of Beyond Forgetting: Poetry & Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease.
In these essays of exploration and quest, Mark Rozema relates tales of danger and exhilaration, serenity and solace, the sustenance of his own experiences and those of the people he meets travelling “a road that pulls you in…wind and an aching blue sky…”. Rozema’s easy, narrative prose, filled with the names and details of plants, mountains, rivers, animals, the towns he passes through, often becomes beautifully lyrical, touching the power of what wild land and sky together mean to the human soul.
Author of Firekeeper, Generations, Holy Heathen Rhapsody, and other works of poetry and prose.
The best writing, like a deep breath and a clear thought, seems effortless. Such are the essays in Road Trip. Rozema covers ground–a lot of it. Witness Alaska’s Resurrection River “as it tumbles through wind-sheared tundra.” Glissade down narrow snow chutes surrounding Washington’s Enchantment Basin. Tour the sifting cinder hill country northeast of Flagstaff. In these essays, landscape details are precise and sensual but unstudied, delivered by an introspective writer who’s not just “been there,” but in memory, desire, and regret, lives there. Take this trip. Let Mark Rozema guide you into “a world of curves, where every turn leads to surprise.” You’ll find such beauty here.
Author of Yellowcake and Red Ant House.
Reviews and Interviews:
A series of essays delicately evoking nature’s power and mystery. Poet Mary Oliver provides the epigraph for essayist Rozema’s lyrical debut collection: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” Like Oliver—and reminiscent also of Annie Dillard and Gretel Ehrlich—Rozema meditates on wildness, living, and dying; on spirituality, transcendence, and epiphany; and on music, friendship, and longing. The roads he followed traverse the Arizona canyons where he grew up; Seattle, where he landed in 1994, “somewhat lost, or somewhat free,” after his marriage ended; the Cascades in Washington; and the rugged terrain of Alaska, where he lived in his mid-20s. A self-proclaimed “agnostic to the core,” the author recalls that in high school, as a born-again Christian, he feared missing the rapture, “the name believers give to the extraordinary moment in which Christ would sweep his righteous followers up in the twinkling of an eye.” Searching for God, he was “driven to seminary by a kind of thirst,” but he lasted only a year. Disillusioned by the church, Rozema found sacred spaces in nature: on jagged mountain peaks, in the “redemptive wilderness,” on the open road. In a sacred place, the author writes, “I feel—simultaneously—my insignificance in the universe, and my centrality in it.” Spiritual sustenance, peace, and connection often seem elusive. “I would like to enter into the freedom that comes from losing the self,” writes the author. “I would like to be fully present in each moment…freed of regrets about the past and worries about the future.” Besides exploring the geology of land and archaeology of self, Rozema chronicles his father’s loss of memory from Alzheimer’s, which left the former math professor and choirmaster disoriented and bewildered. As he lay dying, the author sat by his bedside singing hymns and recounting family stories, witnessing the mysterious moment of death, when “time and space vanish.” A brief but impressive debut collection.
—Kirkus Reviews (a starred review)
Here is a review in Barrelhouse.
Here is an interview with Ann Przyzycki, editor of Isthmus Review.
Here is my interview with Mary Sojourner on KNAU’s Southwest Book Review.
Here is an interview by Iris Graville on her website. Iris is the former editor of the literary magazine Shark Reef.
Road Trip has been awarded the 2016 Washington State Book Award in Biography/Memoir.
Road Trip can be ordered from the Red Hen Press website.
A reading at Uptown Pubhouse in Flagstaff, Arizona, October 26, 2015