Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Torch

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Torch by Cheryl Strayed X
Torch by Cheryl Strayed
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2007, 336 pages

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Born in western Pennsylvania in 1968, Strayed spent most of her formative years—from the age of five until her mid-twenties—in Minnesota. Torch takes place in the fictional town of Midden, Minnesota, based on her hometown of McGregor. "It's my literary landscape; my spiritual home," she says. "No matter how far I wander, I often travel back to Minnesota when I sit down to write."

Before turning to her first novel, Strayed wrote a number of essays, one of which is titled "Heroin/e" and was included in Best American Essays (2000). It tells of her own experiences with her mother's cancer (her mother, like Teresa in Torch, died in her forties when Cheryl was in her early 20s) and her subsequent battle with drugs.

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This article was originally published in February 2006, and has been updated for the January 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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