Excerpt from Torch by Cheryl Strayed, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 336 pages
    Jan 2007, 336 pages

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"Maybe it will go away as mysteriously as it came," she said, turning to Bruce. His haggard face was beautiful to her in the soft light of the dashboard.

"That's what we're going to shoot for," he said, reaching for her knee. She considered sliding over to sit close to him, straddling the clutch, but felt tied to her place near the dark window.

"Or I could die," she said calmly, as if she'd come to peace with everything already. "I could very well die."

"No, you couldn't."


"We're all going to die," he said softly. "Everyone's going to die, but you're not going to die now."

She pressed her bare hand flat onto the window, making an imprint in the frost. "I didn't think I'd die this way."

"You have to stay positive, Ter. Let's get the radiation started and then we'll see. Just like the doctor said."

"He said we'll see about chemo. Whether I'll be strong enough for chemo after I'm done with radiation, not about me being cured, Bruce. You never pay attention." She felt irritated with him for the first time that day and her irritation was a relief, as if warm water were being gently poured over her feet.

"Okay, then," he said.

"Okay what?"

"Okay, we'll see. Right?"

She stared out the window.

"Right?" he asked again, but she didn't answer.

They drove past a farm where several cows stood in the bright light of the open barn, their heads turned toward the dark of the woods beyond, as if they detected something there that no human could. A thrashing.

Copyright © 2005 by Cheryl Strayed. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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