Chasing Family Down the California Gold Rush Trail
“Read him.” — George Elliott Clarke, author of I & I and George and Rue
An award-winning author goes looking for the meaning of family and belonging on a glorious wild-goose-chase road trip across middle America
Wangersky’s great-great-grandfather crossed the continent in search of gold in 1849. William Castle Dodge was his name, and he was 22 years old. He wrote a diary of that eventful journey that comes into the author’s hands 160 years later. And typically, quixotically, Wangersky decides to follow Dodge’s westward trail across the great bulging middle of America, not in search of gold but something even less likely: that elusive thing called family.
What ensues becomes this story, by turns hilarious and profound, about a very long trip — by car, in Wangersky’s case, and on mule and foot in Dodge’s. Interweaving his experiences on the road with Dodge’s diary, the author contemplates the human need to hunt for roots and meaning as he — and Dodge — encounter immigrants who risk everything to be somewhere else, while only glimpsing those who are there already and who want to hold onto their claim in the stream of human migration.
Same Ground is a story about what time washes away and what persists — and what we might find, unexpectedly, if we go looking.
Russell Wangersky is the multiple-award-winning author of seven books of fiction and non-fiction, including Burning Down the House, Whirl Away, and The Hour of Bad Decisions. Formerly a columnist with the SaltWire newspaper chain, he is currently editor-in-chief of the Saskatchewan Postmedia newspapers. He lives in Saskatoon, SK.