My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ALL THE WRONG PLACES is a hero’s journey and the story of the emergence of one of the best of the West’s new writers.
I had the pleasure of meeting Phil Connors at an Association for the Study of Literature and Environment writer’s conference where he was a speaker. Dave Foreman was there too and the three of us had lunch along with my wife and publisher at Torrey House Press, Kirsten Allen. Kirsten ended up sitting with three men who had lost their brothers by their brother’s own hand. It was a moving experience for me, one I still feel and am grateful for.
As coincidence would have it, the copy of ALL THE WRONG PLACES Phil generously sent me showed up in my mailbox on the five year anniversary of my brother’s death. I started reading it around noon and finished it a minute before midnight. I had in my hand a story I related to on many levels, of course, but also one that told the background story of how a sensitive, hard working, acutely honest and master observer came to be an award winning writer.
Phil was on a path he might not have been cut out for when his world was side swiped by the news of his younger brother’s suicide. It was a suicide he feels he might have prevented. We older brothers know this, know we could have done something, know what it would have been, know it even though we are often told there is nothing we could have done. The challenge is to figure how to live with the realization of this existential truth. Phil ended up leaving New York City for a fire tower in the Gila, where his title FIRE SEASON emerged followed by this work. We are all the richer for it.
What is most personal is the most universal. In this exquisitely honest portrayal of a life closely examined and found wanting the rest of us can shed a light on our own dark interior.
Man, Phil, nice work.