Paper pub. date
January 2006
ISBN 9780870710902 (paperback)
5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, 168 pages.


Sons, Fathers, and Rivers

Robin Carey

As a river guide on the Klamath River in northern California, Robin Carey fantasized about attempting "an entire whitewater river in upstream mode." Years later, Carey and his son Dev, both experienced river runners, set out to kayak up the wild Klamath from its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. A test of the limits of physical endurance, the river ascent also forces Carey to work out tensions with his grown son and come to terms with a painful past haunted by a legacy of destructive family relationships.

Upstream is at once a compelling chronicle of the river journey and a moving portrayal of turbulent father-son relationships. Carey’s paternal grandfather, Thomas, preached a hellfire gospel in the Oklahoma Territories, carrying his message to cowboys, sodbusters, whiskey peddlers, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Osage. In his church, he was honored. In his home, he was not — neither his son nor his wife escaped his wrath or his razor strap. The son, George, carried mental scars forward into his own marriage, where they affected the author’s childhood.

During days of hard paddling, Carey comes to admit the quick anger and violent mood swings he shares with his father and grandfather, and to acknowledge the crippling power of that legacy. His battle against the current, and his determination to reconcile with the living and the dead men of his life, shape this powerful memoir.

About the author

Robin Carey has been a frequent contributor to national periodicals and journals, including Gray's Magazine. He is the author of Baja Journey (Texas A&M University Press), which received the 1990 Oregon Book Award. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Read more about this author

"Get ready for more than a river trip in this finely written tale of a father and son turned loose, together, on the wild waters of the Klamath. Robin Carey embarks on an expedition few would attempt, battling both the current and the darkness of two fathers before him. Like the best of river journeys, this one takes us to places we've never been before."

—Tim Palmer, author of Pacific High and California Wild

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