The Long Way Home

THE BOOK: The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries


THE AUTHOR: Tom Montgomery Fate


SUMMARY: A travel memoir that ventures from his smalltown upbringing to vastly different cultures around the globe, Tom Montgomery Fate comes to define “home” not as a physical location, but as a way of belonging. “Migrating birds have an internal compass that allows them to home their way back to their nesting place each spring,” he writes. “For birds, home is both verb and noun—both journey and destination.” The same is true for Fate. Whether he is bobbing in a canoe in the freezing rain with his son on a Canadian lake, praying with Lakota elders in a sweat lodge in South Dakota, or teaching English in a remote Filipino village, these are not stories of arrival. They are detours of discovery, a spiritual wayfinding through the wilderness of time and memory.

WHY THIS TITLE: This travel memoir explores the elusive idea of “home” not as a physical place, but as a kind of belonging, a place where one’s being and vast longings are reconciled.


“Tom Montgomery Fate is the son of a small-town minister and a professor of creative writing. Both roles serve him well in this beautifully written travel memoir.” -Booklist

“The Long Way Home” is a series of eloquent essays about Fate’s search “for a spiritual home … for a kind of belonging that I can carry with me.” -Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Tom Montgomery Fate offers us a testament of devotion—to family, social justice, the unsung midwestern landscape, and the wisdom housed in books. His own book adds to that wisdom, harvesting insights from a lifetime of inner and outer travels. Each essay is a vivid episode in his quest, a venturing out to places that test his character and mold his conscience, followed by a return home, his vision renewed. Traveling with him as readers, we may learn to see our own homeplaces afresh.”—Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Way of the Imagination

In thoughtful and graceful prose, Tom Montgomery Fate offers us a valuable perspective on what it means to journey, not as a tourist, but as a traveler, someone unsure of where he is going. The book is a worthy exploration of poet William Stafford’s question: “Is there a way to be gone and still belong? Travel that takes you home?”—Kathleen Norris, author of Acedia and Me and Dakota

Tom Montgomery Fate’s masterful literary journeys—his aptly named “detours of intention”—remind me of why the essay is such a powerful and engaging form. The Long Way Home is a deeply felt and beautifully written exploration of the search to find home, both in the landscape and in ourselves.-–Michael P. Branch, author of On the Trail of the Jackalope

AUTHOR PROFILE: Tom Montgomery Fate is a professor emeritus at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL, where he taught creative writing and literature courses for more than 30 years. He is the author of five other nonfiction books. The most recent is Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild (Beacon Press). A regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, his essays have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, Orion, The Iowa Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, and many others. Dozens of his essays have also aired on NPR and Chicago Public Radio.


LOCAL OUTLETS: The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn (IL) WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, bookstores, etc.

PRICE: 19.99.


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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