"Anyone who wants to understand Mexican immigration should read this book -- and it's a gripping read, for Garrison is at once stylish, unusually perceptive, wryly humorous, and, above all, both compassionate and deeply knowledgeable. This is an astonishingly original and important work."
"Philip Garrison once again emerges as the ultimate coyote. No other author has proven as tenacious or as fearless or as open to startling invention in leading us across the desert of our nation's failure to imagine the migrant/immigrant flux from Mexico as anything but an unsolvable problem."
"A book that would be vital and germane even if there weren't major debates going on about immigrant rights is Central Washington University emeritus professor Philip Garrison's eloquent Because I Don't Have Wings: Stories of Immigrant Life (University of Arizona). Underlying this account of the lives of Mexican workers doing agricultural work in the Inland Northwest is over thirty years' work on Philip Garrison's part, researching both here and in Mexico. His commitment is further manifested in his being a cofounder of APOYO, a grassroots nonprofit that works on behalf of central Washington's mexicano communities. "In these exquisite essays somewhere between lyrics and odes -- Philip Garrison maps out the new borderlands. . . . Weaving together both testimonio and text, history and his own experience, Because I Don't Have Wings leads both mexicano and Americano towards an encounter neither counted upon. . . . Garrison is a mestizo's mestizo, a literary coyote who smuggles us across not just one but many lines."
"This book is stong and bold . . . and undeniably strange. The details of lives played out in the shadows are surreal, sometimes haunting, often deeply moving. It's an eye-opener that all Americans should read."
"In this brilliant , original, and astonishingly intimate book, Garrison eloquently shows us that borders are not always where we think they are. Every page is both a pleasure and a surprise."
For Mexican workers, the agricultural valleys of the Inland Northwest are a long way from home. But there they have established communities, settlements recent enough that it feels like these newly arrived immigrant mexicanos are pioneers, still getting used to the Anglos and to each other.
Written with irony but bursting with compassion, Because I Don't Have Wings features vivid characters, telling anecdoes, and poignant reflecions on life, unfolding an immigrant's world strikingly different from the one we usually read about. Adaptation, persistence, and survival, we learn, are traits that mexicano culture values. We also learn that, over time, mexicano immigrants don't merely adapt to the culture of el norte, they transform it.
"Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over is Philip Garrison's graceful account of his slow accumulation of identity in the North American west, and reveals how the dance we learn while we are waiting for the earth to turn over is inextricably connected to our experiences in (and memories of) the landscapes we inhabit. From childhood stories set on the banks of the Mississippi to adult experiences in such places as Honduras, Mexico City, and the Pacific Northwest, provides fresh perspectives on how the myths rooted in a specific landscape inform our thinking about the land and about ourselves. Enlightening us with fresh perspective on well-known elements of the mythic West, entertaining us with anecdotes of the post-Cold War West, Garrison reveals how history, memory and identity are interwoven as he shows us the remarkable landscape of the American West in a light both new to us and very, very old. Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over is an engaging, challenging, unusual, informative, insightful, thoughtful, reflective and one of the most memorable presentation. Highly recommended!"
"I yearn for the days of E.B. White, the New Yorker magazine’s, and therefore the world’s, premier essayist of a half-century ago.
But just when I fear I’ll have to be satisfied with Garry Wills and P.J. O’Rourke, along comes Philip Garrison with Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over...
This is a lovely excursion into nooks and crannies of the American heartland’s past, and other distant reaches.
Garrison recalls his college days, rock art, life in Honduras, reflections in a Missouri cemetery, and the days when buffalo wallowed on the prairie.
Fine stuff this. The essay isn’t dead yet."
Portions of this book have appeared in:AWP Chronicle, Cream City Review, Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, High Plains Literary Review, Iowa Review, North American Review, Northwest Review, Southwest Review and Willow Springs
"I love Philip Garrison's essays for what they don't know. His is an essential American voice intent on exploring a geographical -- and mental -- landscape of blurred borders and vague boundaries. Like William James, Garrison believes that 'life is in the transitions,' and at the heart of Augury is a deep intellectual respect for the interrupted moment, the quirky experience, the mysterious friendship, the observations that don't add up. These are essays in the best tradition of American reflection."
"We swim in an ocean of stories, Philip Garrison reminds us. There is no other place to swim. Skeptical of easy narratives, he fashions hard ones. Never sure whether meaning can be found, he patiently hunts for it among Aztec tombs, in old newspapers, in superstitions and butterflies, in the face of his father laid out in a coffin, in the back seat of a Mexican highway patrol car, in the tales of Coyote and the search for peyote. Such a list only begins to suggest the breadth of Garrison's curiosity. Augury is proof that the peasures of reading the essay derive from and deeptn the pleasures of reading the world."
Away Awhile was a finalist for the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
Ninety Seconds in a Columbia River Rest Stop
The day after the longest day of the year,
the hundred miles of cheatgrass,
No one knew whose they were
Books of Poetry