Road Trip

Road Trip is a collection of autobiographical essays that honor the places, people, and other living creatures that have given shape and meaning to my life. Framed by essays about the life and death of my father, the book explores the importance of family, friendship, and what it means to care for another person. Road Trip is about transformations that happen in ways we may not always understand or welcome. It’s about traveling down unknown and unexpected roads with good humor, generosity, and a spirit of adventure. 

A series of essays delicately evoking nature’s power and mystery… Rozema meditates on wildness, living, and dying; on spirituality, transcendence, and epiphany; and on music, friendship, and longing…. A brief but impressive debut collection.

—Kirkus Reviews. Read the full starred review.

It’s a hard thing to do, to meld a fondness for words like “sacred’ and “holy’ with the sheer reckless joy of being out there, on the road or on the trail or on the end of a rope dangling, but Mark Rozema pulls it off.

—Ana Maria Spagna, author of Uplake, Reclaimers, Potluck, and more. Read the full review.

The second song brought me down peacefully beside a firepit near the river, at just that moment before the sun slips away, when the chocolate brown flow of the Little Colorado River turns to burnished gold. I was there, again, wrapping a rainbow trout in foil, with some butter and lemon and onion, and placing it in the hot coals. Then eating it with my fingers, as the last light of the sun tinges the mare’s tails in the sky the same color as the flesh of the trout. Waiting for the stars to come out.

—“On the Road to Grand Falls,” 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, Passages, and other works of poetry and prose.

I will eschew the over-wrought description of great struggle. Suffice it to say that in the moment just before the fish broke the surface of the water, just before I could hook it with my gaffe and hoist it into the stern, in the time it takes for an ego to go from full to flaccid without comprehending the shift, the line went slack and the shadowy creature slipped, without fuss, away. A single Chinook of that size is worth a lot of money and a lot of glory. I don’t know what galled me more—the fact that I didn’t get the fish, or that no one was there to witness the epic saga. No one saw; no one knew.

—“What Is Not Seen,” Road Trip

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 traveling “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.

—Pattiann Rogers, author of Firekeeper, Generations, Holy Heathen Rhapsody, and other works of poetry and prose.

Late that night, when I closed my eyes and drifted into sleep, I relived just how it felt to get a finger lock in the thin crack of “Slow Children,” to lay back against a sharp arete, step gingerly into a delicate stem, have my feet hold, and take just one second to look across the valley at the splendid north face of Mount Index and the quicksilver ribbon of Bridalveil Falls tumbling through the forest of Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Alaskan Cedar.

“The Point of the Game,” Road Trip

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.

–Ann Cummins, author of Yellowcake and Red Ant House.

I plunged my head into the icy waters of Icicle Creek. Spray from the cascading water split sunlight into slivers of rainbow. I stripped out of my damp clothes, put on some dry shorts, found a sandy patch between granite boulders along a turbulent stretch of creek, and fell almost instantly asleep. When I woke, I couldn’t remember where I was, how I got there, or what was supposed to happen next.

—“Rapture,” Road Trip