A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas
By David Biespiel
Acclaimed poet and essayist David Biespiel tells the story of the rise and fall of a Jewish boyhood in Texas, and his search for the answer to his life’s central riddle: Are we ever done leaving home?
Raised in the 1970s in a historic Jewish neighborhood of Houston, Biespiel explores the story of triumph and shame that changed his relationship to the world around him. With cinematic fluidity, he writes of his early years as a teenager who yearns for bold self-invention as he grapples with the enigmas of illness, death, love, and the meaning of faith. Growing up in a family devoted to Jewish identity, Biespiel comes under the tutelage of the head rabbi of the largest conservative congregation in North America. But after the rabbi kicks him out of the synagogue during a very public quarrel, Biespiel leaves Texas and his religious upbringing behind.
After a near-forty-year exile, Biespiel returns for a day to the world he left behind as a different person, to offer a moving meditation on the meaning of home, uncovering bittersweet realities of age, youth, and family with tenderness and devastating honesty.
Written in the years that followed the devastation of Houston wrought by three 500-year floods in three years, including the worst flood in Texas history, Biespiel’s account is by turns personal and philosophical, a meditation on time’s inevitable losses and a writer’s hard-won gains.
A Place of Exodus is not only a memoir, but an essential companion for anyone who has journeyed far – and equally those who have stayed close to the unresolvable paradoxes of home, the aches of time and heart none of us can escape.
“In the great American tradition of improvised cultural makings and unmakings, migration and recurrence, David Biespiel unfolds our national quest onto an unexpected terrain: a decidedly Texan and traditionally Jewish neighborhood of Houston. A surprising, heartbreaking and inspiring story.”
— Robert Pinsky
Also Recently Published:
Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces:
For writers, artists, musicians, dancers, and anyone else who leads a creative life
By David Biespiel
Here is the classic book, re-issued for its tenth anniversary with a new Foreword by novelist Chuck Palahniuk, who writes:
This book has been in print forever because what it offers works for people. . . . you’re about to read magic.
This book cracks open the creative process and invites readers to take a fresh look at the mysterious pathways of the imagination. First insight from acclaimed poet and critic David Biespiel: “Failure is the engine of creativity.”
Biespiel candidly tracks his own development as a writer and challenges traditional assumptions about writing that can stifle creativity. The liberating message:
Working past the brink of failure —being free to try and discard and try again—is what allows the creative process to playfully flourish, keeping the spirit open to unexpected discoveries.
Both beginning and experienced writers—as well as anyone else on that “creative path”—will benefit from this elegant and surprising perspective based on methods developed exclusively at the Attic, the unique literary studio Biespiel founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1999.
Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces will revolutionize the way readers look at their own creative process. It is a rich and rewarding book, a captivating glimpse into the inner life of writers and painters—and above all, a guide to a lifetime of discovery.
A Way Home: Oregon Essays
By Scott F. Parker
Drawings by Alex Hirsch
If the Japanese poet Basho took a walk on a West Coast beach. . . If Lao Tzu were your hiking buddy. . . This book might be the result. What is it that draws us to love our places, our moments? What is this longing, what is this beauty? Is it real? Or is it just a trick of nostalgia?
A neat and compact book, beautifully produced and perfect for carrying in pack or pocket — illustrated with lavish restraint by Portland artist Alex Hirsch.
“Parker writes with consuming intelligence, but beauty takes precedence. . .”
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Scott Parker has done something wonderfully fresh in this memoir/essay. . . . reminiscent of the great searching essayists.”
“A deft and valuable journey, not ‘nostalgic’ (he takes on that literary sin with élan) but gripping in a fully contemporary voice.”
—Patricia Hampl, author of The Art of the Wasted Day
“By turns exuberant, philosophical, and optimistic, Parker writes lyrically about place. Braided closely together are his probes of humankind in nature and his own drive to find himself. Who says you can’t come home again? Of course you can.”
—Robin Cody, author of Ricochet River and Voyage of a Summer Sun