Downstream From Here: A Big Life in a Small Place — Charles Eisendrath
Downstream from Here is a series of essays by former Time magazine investigative reporter Charles R. Eisendrath. Spanning four decades, they were all written at a home away from home — a place inhabited temporarily, but which shapes a person permanently — a summer cottage in Northern Michigan.
The essays range from Anatolia to Argentine, from FDR’s secret wartime fishing trip to a plane crash in Costa Rica. Eisendrath writes of making maple syrup, starting a cherry farm on Lake Charlevoix, of witnessing assassination and the life strategies of fish. Serious, hilarious, inquisitive, spontaneous, Eisendrath introduces us to the people and places, the life, death and afterlife that goes on nonstop, all around us, all by itself.
During his second career at University of Michigan, Eisendrath founded Wallace House, including the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowships, one of the nation’s leading mid-career professional programs, and The Livingston Awards, widely known as “the Pulitzer Prize for the young.” Director of the program from 1986–2016, he raised a $60 million endowment to permanently support the Fellowships, and was founding director of the Prizes.
Advance praise for Downstream From Here
“‘Write like you talk’ is commonly expressed but rarely followed sage advice. Knowing the torrent of passionate words that flow from Charles Eisendrath when he extolls fly fishing, or extracting maple syrup from his farm’s maple trees, or the wonders and perils of his past life as a foreign correspondent, in this vivid, beautiful book he coaxes readers to his campfire and mesmerizes us with glorious stories. The stories, as with Thomas Jefferson’s from Monticello, are really love poems — to Eisendrath’s Michigan Overlook Farm, to its shimmering and stormy lakes, to its varied trees and wildlife and fish, to his devotion to family, and to a love for journalism exceeded only by his love for the wondrous outdoors.” — KEN AULETTA, author, Annals of Communications columnist for the New Yorker
“Charles Eisendrath has long been considered a reporter’s reporter but with Downstream from Here he takes us on a lyrical and altogether enchanting journey through a rich life of family, nature, farms, fish and fun. He reminds us to ignore deadlines and breathe deeply.”— TOM BROKAW
“Written with the eye of a journalist, the prose of a novelist and the wit of a humorist, Downstream from Here takes you on a long walk down the path that leads to a life truly lived. Prepare to be inspired.” — JEFF DANIELS
“Downstream from Here is neither a pilgrim’s nor a rogue’s progress, but a sybarite’s unabashed plea for sufferance. Eisendrath is a likeably voluble, well-informed Virgil through the rounds of his own life’s considerable exploits. And it all works here. His memoir seeks not so much regulation redemption and transcendence as corroboration that human life is, in fact, worth living — especially, it must be admitted, his.” — RICHARD FORD
“Too often we are told we have to choose between living wide or living deep, between traveling across the surface of the earth, or coming to truly know and love one place. But Charles Eisendrath has done both in his rich life. This is the memoir of a foreign correspondent and a journalism mentor and yet a man who is spiritually rooted at his beloved Overlook Farm. The essays that he has written about this life are a joy!” — ELLEN GOODMAN
“Charles Eisendrath could be fearing for his life while interviewing a Chilean dictator after a bloody coup. Or he may be chatting with a Michigan fisherman at sunrise. He comes to both conversations with the same humility and infectious curiosity. And that’s the beauty of this book. As he reflects on his journey, he tells us it’s okay to crave both adventure and quiet moments with people we love. In the end, what really is fulfillment? You’ll leave this book in a better place to find it.” — DAVID GREENE, co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition
“Whether he’s covering a coup, surviving a plane crash, learning how to tap a Michigan maple or pitching his patented wood-burning barbecue cooker, former Time correspondent Charles Eisendrath’s Downstream from Here offers a great read. From his rural Michigan “spirit home,” as he calls it, Eisendrath offers us an eclectic collection of essays that highlight the value of place in our emotional lives. With wit and wisdom, he revisits the past and helps us to feel better about the future.” — CLARENCE PAGE, author, columnist, editorial board member of the Chicago Tribune
“Downstream from Here is a trip home, to the home you dream of and which may not exist for you but — lucky for us — it does for Charles Eisendrath, a reporter, orchardist, teacher, inventor, a father and son and husband whose love of the outdoors is matched by his astonishing attention to its joys and depths. This book comes along with you long after a passage is finished. It speaks to you in a voice beautiful and poignant, a poem about longing, achievements, disappointments and, ultimately, joy.” — DOUG STANTON, author, co-founder of The National Writers Series
“Charles Eisendrath writes that ‘Journalists spend their lives looking out the window.’ In this marvelous memoir, he lets us look back in that same window to a family farm in northern Michigan, and how it relates to a fascinating international life. Downstream from Here is a paean to place and to family, with a cover by one son, drawings by the other, and a counter-intuitive explanation for why one of the country’s most engaging reporters invented a disruptive cooking device called Grillworks. — ARI WEINZWEIG, author, co-founding partner, Zingerman’s community of businesses.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
/ Editors, Journalists, Publishers NATURE / Essays
272 pages; illustrated with photos and drawings; index
6.69 x 9.61 inches
ISBN: 978-1-943995-99-8 (Softcover) Price: $19.95 (retail)
ISBN: 978-1-943995-94-3 (Hardcover) Price: $26.95 (retail)
Publication date: July 2019