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Biographies & Memoirs - Memoirs

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A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas

Binding: Paperback
Author: David Biespiel
Pages: 192
Trim: 5.25 x 8 inches
Published: 09/01/2020

Are we ever done leaving home? Acclaimed poet and memoirist David Biespiel tells the story of the rise and fall of his Jewish boyhood in Texas, and his search for the answer to his life's central riddle.

After a near-forty-year exile, Biespiel returns for a day to the world he left behind as a different person. He creates a moving meditation on the meaning of home, uncovering bittersweet realities of age, youth, and family with tenderness and devastating honesty.

Robert Pinsky writes, "In the great American tradition of improvised cultural makings and unmakings, migration and recurrence, David Biespiel unfolds our national quest onto an unexpected terrain: a decidedly Texan and traditionally Jewish neighborhood of Houston. A surprising, heartbreaking and inspiring story."


David Biespiel is a poet, memoirist, and literary critic. He is the author of eleven books, among them Republic Café, The Education of a Young Poet, The Book of Men and Women, A Long High Whistle, and Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces. A contributor to The New Republic, The New Yorker, and Slate, he has won a number of awards for his writing, including Lannan Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Stegner fellowships, two Oregon Book Awards, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and he has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian Award. He has taught at Stanford University, University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Wake Forest University. He is the founder of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters and Poet-in Residence at Oregon State University.


"In his prose, as in his poetry, David Biespiel heeds the highest calling: he assumes responsibility for life's desire to witness its progress. He opens himself completely and becomes a conduit for language to address language, for the self, whatever it may be, to know the self. A meditation on Judaism, a surprising history of Texas, a memoir of a unique and enriching childhood, A Place of Exodus finally becomes a testament to the honest imagination, a sort of sacred text." - Tracy Daugherty

"In A Place of Exodus, David Biespiel embarks on a search not for resolution, reprieve, or spiritual repatriation but for the very scent of an era, its ancient and communal dramas, its generational and theological forces. With tenderness, ferocity, and profound humility he traces the origins of his singular sensibility – one that is both wrestled and inherited from beloveds, the land, and tradition. Because Biespiel is Jewish (though admittedly 'retired') he is compelled to remember. Because he is a storyteller, he caresses the complex characters and places of his past. And finally, because he is a poet, he makes it all sing – gorgeously." - Lia Purpura

"David Biespiel vividly recreates his unlikely Jewish upbringing in Houston, Texas, and movingly tells the story of how he moved away from the dictates and certainties of his childhood religion. He raises large questions about the meaning of home and the nature of exile, which is why A Place of Exodus is such a keen reckoning. It is even a sort of homecoming." - Edward Hirsch