Journey West: A Memoir of Journalism and Politics. By Stephen Hartgen. February 2014. 300 pages. Softcover. ISBN-13 978-0945648123. Price $15.95.
Stephen Hartgen tells his story of moving ever westward – from growing up in Maine, to newspapering in Minnesota and Wyoming, and on to Twin Falls, Idaho, where he became a statewide figure as editor and publisher of the Times News and later a state legislator. He writes about all of it in Journey West.
From the book:
If there’s an over-arching theme, it is not coming West in a physical sense, but in the perseverance to make something of myself in a new place, time and generation, apart from my roots in Maine and elsewhere “out East.” It has not been a perfect journey. It took me many years to find who I was as a journalist, community publisher, civic leader and now public official. Even now, in my 60s, I’m still a “work in progress.” I expect that will always be so. Nor is this memoir an “I did it my way” account. There were costs and losses to be sure, but also successes and rewards in the personal satisfaction of giving something back to my community, state and nation.
If there’s a lesson, it’s in the perseverance. Every person has the talent to make something of himself in this world. It takes mostly drive and determination to do so, the size of the fight in the dog, so to speak. If this personal narrative helps readers discover their own internal strengths, it will be a success.
Journey West by Stephen Hartgen tracks a literal journey and one philosophical: From Maine to Idaho, and along the political spectrum. He tells the story of what brought the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator west from Maine to Idaho, and what he found and has done here. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
The chief attraction for me in fly fishing is what Dame Berners called the health of the soul. Simpler pleasures rise in importance during our pressured world of work and sometimes play in modern America. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as a day on the stream in whatever season. “If there be nought in the water,” she wrote, “yet as the least he has his wholesome walk and merry at his ease, sweet air of the sweet savor of the meadow flowers that makes him hungry. He hears the melodious harmony of fowl. He sees the young swans, herons, ducks, coots and many other fowl with their broods, which seems better than all the noise of hounds, the blasts of horns, and the cry of fowl that hunters, falconers and fowlers can make. And if the angler take fish, surely then is there no man merrier than he is in his spirit.” It is a sublime world where the angler is part of nature, not disruptive of it, a pastoralism reminiscent of Jefferson and many other American philosophers and writers.
Perhaps the reverence in fly fishing is in the beauty in which trout live. Almost every turn in the creek leads through a magic doorway, to another run, pool, eddy, tumble and gurgle of water. The light dapples through branches, leaving the water black and clear to the eye. In the tail wash, jumbles of stones are strewn about by God’s intelligent hand, endlessly different in shape and color, rounded, flat, smooth, of varying sizes and shapes.