Childs, Craig 1967-
CHILDS, Craig 1967-
PERSONAL: Born April 21, 1967, in Tempe, AZ; son of James Childs (an insurance agent) and Sharon (maiden name, Riegel) Carpenter. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: University of Colorado, Boulder, B.A. (magna cum laude); Prescott College, graduate study.
ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 112, Crawford, CO 81415.
CAREER: River guide, 1986—. Worked as editor, writer, photographer, and mechanic for Colorado newspapers, including Ouray County Plaindealer and Ridgeway Sun, 1990-92.
AWARDS, HONORS: Colorado Press Association Award, 1991; winner of a nature writing contest, Sierra magazine, 1993; Maggie Award, best essay, Adventure Journal, 1995.
Stone Desert: A Naturalist's Exploration of Canyonlands National Park, Westcliffe Publishers (Englewood, CO), 1995.
Crossing Paths: Uncommon Encounters with Animals in the Wild, Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 1997.
(With Leo W. Banks) Grand Canyon Stories: Then and Now, Arizona Highways Books (Phoenix, AZ), 1999.
(With Gary Ladd) Grand Canyon: Time below the Rim, Arizona Highways Books (Phoenix, AZ), 1999.
The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert, Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 2000.
(With Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan) Colorado, Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 2000.
The Southwest's Contrary Land: Forever Changing between Four Corners and the Sea of Cortes, Arizona Highways Books (Phoenix, AZ), 2001.
A Land Forever Changing, Win Holden (Phoenix, AZ), 2001.
Soul of Nowhere: Traversing Grace in a Rugged Land, Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 2002.
The Desert Cries: A Season of Flash Floods in a Dry Land, Arizona Highways Books (Phoenix, AZ), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Craig Childs told CA: "I don't have a choice about writing. I spend maybe nine months of the year in the deeper wilderness, and the stories that I pass through are difficult not to relay. Most of my work comes from journals completed in the back country—mostly from the Southwest. There are elements out there of such immense power and influence that my only job is to reflect them in words as best I can. Because of the rawness of these experiences, writing is not a difficult task, but it is secondary to being there.
"I grew up in Arizona and Colorado and acquired an understanding of a particular landscape. I do not doubt that this is true for anyone, anywhere. But the places here are so striking, so severe, that they burn into my skin. It is now my job to go out there beyond reason and come back with the story.
"Mostly I was a child of a single parent—my mother. My childhood was in motion, moving often between Arizona and Colorado. Both of my parents have (had) a strong connection to the outside, my mother in a physical sense, my father philosophically.
"I have not had a telephone in eight years. I have lived in a tipi, the back of a truck, and anywhere else possible. Mostly I live out in the rocks somewhere. It doesn't look like things are going to be changing soon."
In The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert, Childs records two years' worth of treks through the deserts of North America. The book is "part memoir, part paean to the infinitely changing landscape and part lessons in geology, geography, and genealogy," according to online reviewer Rebecca Brown, who called it "a magical read, to be savored for years to come." Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times was similarly effusive, calling the book "pure oxygen."
A contributor to Publishers Weekly compared Childs with some of today's greatest nature writers: "His highly personal odyssey combines John McPhee's gift for compressing scientific knowledge and Barry Lopez's spiritual questing." According to Kim Long in Bloomsbury Review, "Childs has the talent as a writer to teach as well as enchant." "This is a direct book," wrote Suzannah Lessard, reviewing The Secret Knowledge of Water in the Washington Post, "in which the author is on fire with his subject and grabs whatever lies at hand that might help him testify ....The net result is that one comes out of the book feeling that the experiences recounted are one's own. Certainly no reader will ever see the desert in the same way again."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bloomsbury Review, January, 1998, review of Crossing Paths: Uncommon Encounters with Animals inthe Wild, p. 21; July-August, 2001, Kim Long, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert.
Booklist, February 15, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water, p. 1063.
Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, May, 1998, review of Crossing Paths, p. 34.
Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Janet N. Ross, review of Grand Canyon: Time below the Rim, p. 91; April 1, 2000, Tim J. Markus, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water, p. 124.
Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2000, Susan Salter Reynolds, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water, p. E-1.
Publishers Weekly, February 28, 2000, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water, p. 77.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 1998, review of Crossing Paths, p. 178.
Washington Post, April 23, 2000, Suzannah Lessard, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water, p. X-07.
Rebeccas Reads,http://www.rebeccasreads.com/ (May 17, 2002), Rebecca Brown, review of The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert.*