~ Start Here ~
I had just entered the Champ de Mars when the woman saw me. She looked suddenly surprised. I had come up the Avenue de Tourville, crossed Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, and was walking, strolling really, hands in pockets, hat tilted back, toward the Eiffel Tower. It was a gray morning in Paris—early March. Foggy and […]
There are reasons some images stick. Not so much the photographs, though it’s wonderful and compelling when they do. I’m talking about the image in your head, the memory, the story, the kind of sight that gets in sharp, oftentimes lightning fast, then struggles to get back out. We tell the story and fail to […]
Imagine a college hallway, early morning. Students on their way to an 8:00 a.m. class, backpacks already heavy, strained breathing on the third floor landing. This is not an elegant setting. The lights are fluorescent. Chairs, where three students wait to meet with professors about whatever project or paper is not going well, […]
Dear Friends, forgive me. This is cliché, I know. I am 55 years old. My children are grown and healthy, out of the house and happy on their own. I have been married for 29 years. My wife, as I type these words, is a short hallway and corner away, watching television in […]
Because this is Paris, imagine an early springtime evening at the moment the cafes which line the streets near Notre Dame have closed. The air is dark, fog-filled and cold. A mist hangs in the trees. The streetlamps glow. I linger in the square, the Place du Parvis, what people call the heart of Paris, […]
15 January 2014 It begins with a warning. A little after 5:00 a.m., my cell phone makes a noise. Not the noise of an incoming call. Not the noise of worry or love, no human at the other end with something to say. This is the message noise. The buzz of incoming information. […]
the Prologue from Prairie Sky, published by the University of Missouri Press, 2013 Walking Chaucer Here is a question— What must the angels think of the earth? Imagine, for just a moment, the leap of their arrival. In the moment before—they are ethereal, weightless, timeless and light, the moral sparks of eternity. […]
Let’s begin with humility, perhaps a kind of sadness. I am not the only person in the courtyard at the Louvre this morning with a camera. Cell phone cameras. Professional rigs. Everyone else looks like they know what they are doing. Everyone else has already taken the picture I think I want to take, though […]
~ Reviews ~
In his very bones, Olsen is a bird. His writing soars, swoops, circles and dives just like his beloved little Cessna 172. I don’t care how many times you’ve been on a plane, you’ve not flown until you’ve read Scott Olsen.
–Mark Jenkins, Senior Global Correspondent, National Geographic-
In this soaring book, Scott Olsen offers up a twin paean to the beauty of flight and the gravitational pull of the upper Midwest. From the cockpit of a rented Cessna, Olsen flies us through history, epic weather, geology, human endeavor, and the pure, sometimes terrifying joy of being alive in a world of marvels. Prairie Sky is a lovingly chanted hymn to a place we thought we knew but in fact never probed from such height and with such depth.
–David Laskin, author of The Children’s Blizzard and The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century-
A profound and beautifully crafted work of discovery by a pilot who flies with open eyes.
–William Langewiesche, International Correspondent, Vanity Fair-
“It’s not where he goes, but what he sees and how he glowingly describes the scenes that make this book a pleasure to read.”—Booklist-
Rarely does a book about flying airplanes swoop gently into history, philosophy, geology, and science. This one does. And if you want to fly an airplane, Prairie Sky by W. Scott Olsen puts your hands, head, and heart at the controls. If you already fly and love it, and have never quite discovered the secrets of that love, then Olsen’s narrative uncovers those secrets. Become young again. Fly this book.
–Clyde Edgerton, author of Solo and The Floatplane Notebooks-
“Scott Olsen takes the travel essay into the air in the most spectacular way—this is a collection full of grace, style, lyricism, and sharp cloud-level insight. The beauty of Olsen’s work is that he gives us a new way of seeing— he allows us to be both ‘above’ and ‘inside’ at the exact same time.”
—Colum McCann, winner of the National Book Award and author of Transatlantic: A Novel-