Chisholm, Clive Scott 1936-

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CHISHOLM, Clive Scott 1936-


Born 1936, in Canada.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, University of Oklahoma Press, 1005 Asp Avenue, Norman, OK 73019-6051.


Writer. Utah State University, former associate professor and head of department of communication.


Following the Wrong God Home: Footloose in an American Dream, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2003.

Contributor to literary journals, including Western Humanities Review, Creative Nonfiction, and Lake Effect.


Clive Scott Chisholm is a writer, poet, and retired educator. His Following the Wrong God Home: Footloose in an American Dream is a memoir of a journey he took on foot in 1985, from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City, Utah, when he retraced the more-than-one-thousand-mile route of nineteenth-century Mormon pioneers. Library Journal's George M. Jenks commented that Chisholm's prose "is humorous and filled with sparkling phrases."

Chisholm was born in Canada to a family that belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but he eventually became a Roman Catholic. He spent all of his adult life in the United States and was teaching in upstate New York when he took his extended walk, during which he focused on finding himself and understanding the American Dream of the individual as compared to the dream of community sought by the Mormons. As he documents his trip and writes of the people and places he encounters, he writes bluntly of his impressions, without varnishing the truth. He offers a map of his journey, marking his stops along the way. Chisholm frequently references "the Osage," a friend who he says encouraged and inspired him to make the journey. He doesn't name the friend, but it is William Least Heat Moon, author of books that include Blue Highways: A Journey into America, PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country, River Horse: The Logbook of a Boat across America, and Columbus in the Americas.

Jeff Needle reviewed Following the Wrong God Home for the Association for Mormon Letters Web site, saying that it "is not faith-promoting literature. It isn't even a particularly accurate view of Mormon belief and culture.… Instead, it is the story of a gifted writer who sets out to find himself. Losing oneself can be tricky business.… Whatever methodology you use to reclaim your identity must be chosen carefully.… But Chisholm decides to blaze his own trail, following in the footsteps of men whose belief he does not share. And with every step, and every stop, he unleashes his incredibly fertile imagination and talented, although barbed, pen, bringing us along and sucking us in."

Salt Lake Tribune writer Martin Naparsteck wrote that "in Chisholm's view, American Dreaming came to justify Manifest Destiny, building a country from sea to sea and pushing aside people who already lived there. It also meant, he says, constantly moving (typically westward), making choices when 'a fork in the road' was reached." Naparsteck added that Chisholm "closes his narrative by quoting Robert Penn Warren: 'The dream is a lie, but the dreaming isn't.' Following the Wrong God Home invites arguments. All good literature does. Don't trust any book that comforts you."



Chisholm, Clive Scott, Following the Wrong God Home: Footloose in an American Dream, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2003.


Library Journal, March 15, 2003, George M. Jenks, review of Following the Wrong God Home, p. 104.

Salt Lake Tribune, March 2, 2003, Martin Naparsteck, review of Following the Wrong God Home.


Association for Mormon Letters Web site, (September 19, 2003), Jeff Needle, review of Following the Wrong God Home.*