February 2021 Book Club Selection

Never Leaving Laramie
Haines, John W.: Never Leaving Laramie: Travels in a Restless World (2020)

Discussion: Monday, February 15, 2021, 6:30-8:00 pm. Online meeting via Zoom; e-mail bookclub AT crpca.org for the login information. Participating in our discussion will be John Haines, the book’s author!

Synopsis: John Haines spent the better part of two decades traveling the world: biking through Tibet, kayaking the length of the Niger River, taking the Trans-Siberian Express from Beijing to East Berlin. Various friends and compatriots—frequently from his hometown of Laramie, Wyoming—accompanied Haines on his trips. In 1999, everything changed. While leaping from a moving train in the Czech Republic—something he’d done many times in many places—Haines fell and broke his neck. Damage to his spine left him without use of his legs and radically changed his life. In the years since, Haines has added writer to a résumé that already included baker and banker. In Never Leaving Laramie, he pulls stories about traveling into an exploration of home: How a rural home fueled and sustained a worldview. How beauty and danger blend together with humility and ego. How itchy feet combine with the comfort of home in Laramie, a tough railroad town turned college town and a launchpad for wanderers. Throughout, Haines returns to ideas of rivers and movement. He ends with a chapter on a different kind of travel, reflecting on how his accident did and did not change him and the varied ways that people can move through the world.

Where to find it:
Vendors: OSU Press | Amazon

October 2017 Book Club Selection

Sky Burial
Xinran: Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet (2005)

Discussion: Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Ann and Roger Crockett, 1922 NE 12th Ave in Portland, 801-388-8235. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Publishers Weekly: Inspired by a brief 1994 interview with an aged Chinese woman named Shu Wen, Beijing-born, London-based journalist Xinran (The Good Women of China) offers a delicately wrought account of Wen’s 30-year search for her husband in Tibet, where he disappeared in 1958. After less than 100 days of marriage, Wen’s husband, Kejun, a doctor in the People’s Liberation Army, is posted to Tibet and two months later is reported killed. Stunned and disbelieving, 26-year-old Wen is determined to find Kejun herself; a doctor also, she gets herself posted to the isolated Tibetan area where Kejun had been. There, as one of the few women in the Chinese army, she endures much hardship and rescues a Tibetan noblewoman named Zhuoma. After being separated from her fellow soldiers in the wake of an ambush by Tibetan rebels, Wen, accompanied by Zhuoma, sets off on a trek through the harsh landscape. Years later, after going native with a tribe of yak herders, Wen learns the circumstances of Kejun’s death and understands that her husband was caught in a fatal misunderstanding between two vastly different cultures. Woven through with fascinating details of Tibetan culture and Buddhism, Xinran’s story portrays a poignant, beautiful attempt at reconciliation.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble