The Long Passages – Entered in the 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest
The Long Passages: Paths of Self-Discovery by Paul Winder is a memoir consisting of many individual experiences. From growing up on a farm to retirement on the Florida coast, Winder presents the reader with numerous glimpses into various aspects of his life.
The Long Passages: Paths of Self-Discovery gives the reader a window into Winder’s life experiences. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how these short vignettes would appeal to anyone outside of the author’s family and friends. The nature of memoirs is that they are deeply personal. As such, it helps if the reader is familiar with the person whose experiences form the basis of the memoir. The vignettes sometimes verge into problematic territory particularly when discussing the students that the reader used to mentor. This is largely due to the period the author worked in counseling, but it is hard not to wonder about the racist undertones. This could be particularly off-putting for some readers. One way to counter this would be to remove these experiences altogether, or carefully reword them to make it clear that these undertones were not intentional.
This collection is well-served by its organization and structure. The stories flow easily from one to the next, presenting the reader with a full picture of the life Paul Winder has led. Particularly captivating are the pieces that detail life on a Pennsylvania farm after the war. These stories alone could be brought together in a book focusing exclusively on Winder’s experiences growing up and working on a farm; something that would appeal to any reader interested in farming and homesteading. Ultimately, The Long Passages: Paths of Self-Discovery by Paul Winder presents a glimpse into various aspects of the author’s life, but it may only appeal to a small number of readers.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.