This remarkable collection strings together a broad range of bright, engaging personal essays along a common thread: the author’s dream of outrunning a pronghorn antelope.
Carrier has been writing about the American West since 1983 for outlets as varied as Harper’s and Esquire in print and All Things Considered and This American Life on the radio. His insight and wit render with the panache of good fiction his real-life experiences, from interviewing Medicaid-receiving schizophrenics in Utah and renovating a house to hitchhiking across America and exploring Cambodia, Kashmir, and Mexico. Memoir-essays about his family, neighbors, solitude, exploration, and pursuit of the antelope are simultaneously a relentless and exultant investigation of the quests and passions of the people he encounters along the way. Crystallized details that feel like excerpts from much longer stories afford brief, Technicolored glimpses into other people’s lives: a modern dancer’s feet are like suspension bridges; a Serbian truck driver tries to sell his cousin’s religious paintings in the basement of a renovated Pennsylvania pizza parlor; an idealistic young American woman among the international observers in Chiapas smokes a pipe. Not for Carrier the self-aggrandizing bravado of the journalist who has seen and done it all—rather, he expresses the humble awe of someone who has been lucky enough to see a bit of the world’s beauty and tried to make some sense of it. His concise mastery of language is an absolute joy.
Surreal and surprising, funny and unsettling, Carrier’s ebullient work defies common sense and annihilates the commonplace.