Following the Wrong God Home: Footloose in an American Dream

Overview

Clive Scott Chisholm wryly describes himself as a “fugitive from the American Dream.” A displaced Canadian and a legally “registered alien,” Chisholm set out from his home in upstate New York in 1985 to discover the origins of that dream. In Following the Wrong God Home, he recounts his personal odyssey, describing the people he encountered and the unforgettable stories they told.
Chisholm’s solo journey on foot from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City retraced the 1,100-mile ...
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Overview

Clive Scott Chisholm wryly describes himself as a “fugitive from the American Dream.” A displaced Canadian and a legally “registered alien,” Chisholm set out from his home in upstate New York in 1985 to discover the origins of that dream. In Following the Wrong God Home, he recounts his personal odyssey, describing the people he encountered and the unforgettable stories they told.
Chisholm’s solo journey on foot from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City retraced the 1,100-mile trek of nineteenth-century Mormon pioneers. In this account, he juxtaposes that Mormon search for the dream of “community” against the modern search for the American dream of “individuality,” muses over how much and how little things have changed in the century-and-a-half since 1847, and creates a narrative informed by the American dreamers he came across from Omaha to Salt Lake City.
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Editorial Reviews

Western Historical Quarterly

“[Chisholm’s] wide-ranging curiosity delights in all things western, from barbed wire, bison, and brands, to water, watermelons, and windmills. His perceptive insights are worth a second read. . . . At the end of four hundred pages, I was not ready to stop.”—Polly Aird, Western Historical Quarterly

— Polly Aird

Utah Historical Quarterly
“More than just an interesting travel narrative.”—Utah Historical Quarterly
Oklahoma Observer
“A sometimes brutally frank debunking of both Mormon and American Dream myths and an eclectic and compelling narrative.”—Oklahoma Observer
Sun Times
“A classic that will stand beside Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways for years to come.”—Andrew Armitage, Sun Times (Canada)
Western Historical Quarterly - Polly Aird
“[Chisholm’s] wide-ranging curiosity delights in all things western, from barbed wire, bison, and brands, to water, watermelons, and windmills. His perceptive insights are worth a second read. . . . At the end of four hundred pages, I was not ready to stop.”—Polly Aird, Western Historical Quarterly
Library Journal
Chisholm is a retired Utah State University professor and a poet, novelist, and essayist whose work has appeared in numerous journals. He is also a displaced Canadian, now living in upstate New York, who journeyed solo on foot along the Mormon Trail in 1985-from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City-retracing the 1000-mile trek of 19th-century Mormon pioneers. The purpose of his trip was to play off the Mormon search for the dream of "community" against the modern search for the American dream of "individuality." In this insightful and amusing account of his odyssey, he shares his experiences, describing the people he encountered along the way and the stories they told, and offers his thoughts on the differing manners of Americans, Canadians, and Mormons of any nationality. A former Mormon himself, Chisholm intersperses bits of Mormon history throughout the text and critically discusses some aspects of the religion. His prose is humorous and filled with sparkling phrases. For all travel collections.-George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803224315
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Series: Outdoor Lives Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 2.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Clive Scott Chisholm (1936–2007) was an associate professor and former head of the Department of Communication at Utah State University. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous journals. William Kittredge is the award-winning author of several books, including A Hole in the Sky: A Memoir, and most recently, The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2003

    History The Way It Oughta Be

    You can't judge a book by its cover or, in the case 'Following the Wrong God Home', by its advertising blurbs on the dust jacket. An acquaintance who works at a local bookstore fairly frothed at the mouth while singing the praises of this book, and she had only finished half of it (the first half). As her tastes agree with my own generally and as Mormon history happens to be my bag, I bought it and started to read. After the first chapter, I put it down and scratched my head. Somehow the reading wasn't going as planned. I've read hundreds of volumes on as many aspects of Mormonism as I can think of, but something wasn't clicking with me. I didn't want to admit to my bookstore acquaintance that I didn't 'get it'. So in an act of preemptive bravado, I plunged back into its pages, determined not to be outunderstood by the bookstore lady. As chapters rolled by, I grew more accustomed to Scott Chisholm's meter. Although I'm sure his method may be shoehorned into 'the seven holy principles of good prose' and thereby explained, this book does not have the feel of such an effort. Rather, the structure and tenor of the tale mirror the rhythms of the difficulty of those first Mormon pioneers. Instead of simply describing the experience, he paints it as a work or art. Like the Russian masters, the most poignant observations of life are made by those who have experienced the worst of it. Suffering has no value without the introspection that follows and Scott Chisholm guides us through that experience. Spoiler: the Mormons do make it to Utah.

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