On All Sides Nowhere: Building a Life in Rural Idaho

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 15 . 2002 . - : 147
In the 1970s, a young man, eager to experience life like Thoreau and Walden, takes his wife and moves to a rural Idaho log cabin in this memoir.

When Bill Gruber left Philadelphia for graduate school in Idaho, he and his wife decided to experience true rural living. His longing for the solitude and natural beauty that Thoreau found on Walden Pond led him to buy an abandoned log cabin and its surrounding forty acres in Alder Creek, a town considered small even by Idaho standards. But farm living was far from the bucolic wonderland he expected: he now had to rise with the sun to finish strenuous chores, cope with the lack of modern conveniences, and shed his urban pretensions to become a real local. Despite the initial hardships, he came to realize that reality was far better than his wistful fantasies. Instead of solitude, he found a warm, welcoming community; instead of rural stolidity, he found intelligence and wisdom; instead of relaxation, he found satisfaction in working the land. What began as a two-year experiment became a seven-year love affair with a town he'll always consider home.

Winner of the Bakeless Prize, Bread Loaf Writers Conference

Praise for On All Sides Nowhere

While Grubers writing is a gift, even better are the simple but profound truths he shares: We sometimes forget that the most important thing we can do with our lives is to make them models for somebody else to follow. Grubers Idaho is like the Troy first and famously uncovered by 19th-century German archeologist Schliemann: in actuality, there isnt a whole lot there, but the author makes it seem full and magical, all the same. Publishers Weekly

What was intended to be a deep immersion in study for graduate schoolin the silence and solitude of a northern Idaho backwoods cabinbecomes a deep immersion instead in a place and its people, sharply etched . . . . Engaging particulars of an essential life, pared to the core. Kirkus Reviews



2 Things That Came with the Place
3 Locals
4 The White Fir
5 Immigrants and Emigrants
6 Falling Trees
7 Hay for the Horses
8 Builders Buildings and BuildOns
9 Scrounging
10 Backwoods Mechanics
11 Why They Shoot Bears in Alder Creek
12 At the Bend in the River Where the Cottonwoods Grow
Back Cover


William Gruber is a professor of English at Emory University. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, but spends his summers in Alder Creek, Idaho.