“Most writers become writers because they have to be. It is as natural to them as breathing. For me, I even dream in narrative . . .

Philip Caputo: Nonfiction, fiction

Books

Fiction

Horn of Africa: A Novel (1980)
DelCorso's Gallery (1983)
Indian Country
(1987)
Equation for Evil: A Novel (1996)
Exiles, Three Short Novels (1997)
The Voyage: A Novel (2000)
Acts of Faith (2005)
Crossers (2009)

Nonfiction

A Rumor of War (1977)
Means of Escape: A War Correspondent's Memoir of Life and Death in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Vietnam (1991)
In the Shadows of the Morning: Essays on Wild Lands, Wild Waters, and a Few Untamed People
(2002)
Ghosts of Tsavo: Stalking the Mystery Lions of East Africa
(2002)

10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War [YA] (2004)
13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings
(2005)
The Longest Road: From the Southern Cross to the Northern Lights
(2013)

Caputo has also written articles that have appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Esquire, National Geographic, and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Awards
Pulitzer Prize (shared, Chicago Tribune) - 1972
Overseas Press Club Award - 1973
Sidney Hillman Foundation award - 1977 (A Rumor of War)
National Book Award finalist (Horn of Africa) -1980
Bank Street Best Books of the Year - 2005
Connecticut Book Award - 2006
Literary Lights Award - 2007

Blackford Prize for nonfiction, University of Virginia - 2007

Phil and his wife, Leslie Ware, live in one of the oldest houses in Patagonia. They are both avid horse riders as well as writers. Phil loves to hunt with Sky, their sweet Enlish Setter, stargaze in the pure high desert air, and tell good tales.

When we first got to Patagonia, we were advised that we'd probably find the best local writers at the Wagon Wheel Saloon late in the afternoon. On our first visit we met a few hunters at the bar, some familiar from our RV park. No writers that we could see, but some interesting chaps that we continued to chat with on return visits. Finally we asked the best storyteller of the group, a guy named Phil, his last name. "Caputo" he answered.


Philip Caputo tells stories because he has to. It's in his DNA. In the Wagon Wheel, on a horse, on the hunt, on the page—his stories itch to get out of his head and on to paper, into the eyes and ears and brains of others. And they are good stories well told.

Caputo says that although he writes in an American journalistic style, he was greatly influenced by Joseph Conrad whose 'weird construction' of language worms inside not only his head, but his whole system. It is Conrad's psychology and worldview that has influenced his own writing: confronting human weakness and evil coupled with the desire for redemption.

Interview Movie
(Embedded version below)

MP3 Audio File
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Location:

Patagonia, AZ

Run Time:

37:55

Genre:

Nonfiction, fiction

Website:

none

Raised:

Chicago

Youthful Influence:

A high school teacher who had students write in various forms to understand the writing process.

Favorite Authors:

Joseph Conrad

Literary Habit:

In Connecticut: coffee, exercise, shave, coffee and head to writing studio.

He is best known for A Rumor of War and other works on the Vietnam war. He served as marine lieutenant early in that war, and went back as a reporter covering the fall of Saigon. His war writing was influenced by Siegfried Sasoon's Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Frederick Manning's The Middle Parts of Fortune, both about WWI.

He started his writing career as a journalist, but felt compelled to write about the Vietnam war, something that just wouldn't let him go. After he wrote Rumor of War, he started work on a novel, quit his journalistic career at its height and dove into a creative life of writing. His works are almost evenly split between fiction and nonfiction, but even his fiction works are well researched with a reporter's penchant for truth.

While we are sorry that you couldn't be with us listening to Phil at the Wagon Wheel, pour yourself a Dos Equis, settle back and join us in this conversation on the writing life.


Writers J.B. Miller, Phil Caputo and Jim Fergus at an afternoon salon at the Wagon Wheel Saloon in Patagonia.
Tammie is making sure they don't run out of things to say.


This is in a wall next to the door, part of the intriguing history of the house.

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