So Far, So Good


So Far, So Good

Ralph Salisbury

River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize Series

288 pages


April 2013


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

April 2020


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

April 2013


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Bullet-shattered glass clatters onto his baby bed; he wakes and cries out into darkness. Does he remember this? Or remember being told? Regardless, he feels it, and will feel it again, bomb bay wind buffeting his eighteen-year-old body a mile above an old volcano’s jagged debris, and yet again, staring at photos of Korean orphans, huddled homeless in a blizzard after a bombing in which, at twenty-five, he’d refused an order to join. It is through such prisms of the past that Ralph Salisbury’s life unfolds, a life that, eighty years in the making, is also the life of the twentieth century. Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, So Far, So Good is a sometimes strange, sometimes lyrical, and often humorous attempt by an inveterate storyteller to recount “just things as they were.”

The survivor of a lightning strike, car and plane mishaps, explosions, bullets, a heart attack, cancer, and other human afflictions, Salisbury wonders: “Why should anyone read this?” The book itself resoundingly answers this question not merely with its sheer eventfulness but also in the prodigious telling. Salisbury takes us from abject poverty in rural Iowa during the Great Depression, with a half Cherokee father and an Irish American mother, through war and peace and protest to the freedom and solace of university life; and it is in the end (so far) so good.

Author Bio

Ralph Salisbury (1926–2017) was the 2015 recipient of the C.E.S. Wood Retrospective Award (celebrating a distinguished career in Oregon letters), the Rockefeller Bellagio Award in fiction, and the Northwest Poetry Award. His most recent books are Blind Pumper at the Well, The Indian Who Bombed Berlin, and Light from a Bullet Hole. Salisbury’s thirteen books evoke his Cherokee-Shawnee-Irish-English-American heritage.


"From birth to adolescence to war and back again, Salisbury hones in on the quieter moments of life. Steering clear of melodrama, he depicts a world captured in sepia tones, in which understated prose and humble observations best reflect the world that passed him by. . . . Stylistically simple yet structurally complex, Salisbury's latest installment reads as a final chapter to a long, lauded literary life."—Kirkus

"An important glimpse into 20th-century Midwestern life, this book will also be an important addition to the canon of Native American literature."—Library Journal

"[Salisbury's] memoir is a remarkable mosaic of his childhood, his service in World War II and his career as an intellectual."—Katie Schneider, Oregonian

"The end result of Salisbury's narrative is to intelligently press us into a recognition of the importance of lived experience and urge an active engagement with our collective past, present and as-yet-to-be-created future."—Elizabeth Wilkinson, Star Tribune

"Don't miss out on the life of Mr. Ralph J. Salisbury. . . . This memoir will take you on a journey into American history."—Night Owl Reviews

"A highly readable autobiography."—David Christensen, Western American Literature

Table of Contents


Also of Interest