Author’s First Book Earns Honors

PULLMAN, Wash. — She “borrowed” her neighbor’s draft horse team at the age of five,
wrecked the family’s new car at ten, and made major decisions about religion based on experience
in the fifth grade. Moscow, Idaho author Alice Koskela reveals much about herself and her
childhood in her first book, “The Pull of Moving Water,” recently published by Washington
State University Press.
Koskela’s coming-of-age memoirs capture that peculiar mix of innocence and ruthlessness
that is childhood — that time when we know far less than we think we do, and far more than any
adult might guess. “The Pull of Moving Water” describes the cultural simmering of the 1950s
and the explosion of the 1960s from the vantage point of a girl growing up inside those years, yet
impossibly removed from anything that seems to matter. She’s stuck on a farm in southern Idaho,
a state so remote and uncool that Dick Clark makes fun of it on “American Bandstand.”
The title comes from a passage in the book that mirrors the author’s desire to experience the
world beyond her farm, “…the fish were free now, feeling the pull of moving water for the first
time. If they were lucky, they might make it to a drain ditch, and from there, maybe even find the
“Moving Water” is stunning in its honesty — about growing up a gentile among the
Mormons; about what the Cold War did to children, particularly those in the path of mysterious,
powdery “bomb rains” that blew in from Nevada tests; about the cruelty of a breast-obsessed
culture for adolescent girls. Koskela’s often humorous story recalls the joy and pain of childhood
and of an era, lived out in a place that was not, after all, so far away.
The quality of “Moving Water” already has earned Koskela honors. In 1995, she won the
Idaho Commission on the Arts Artist’s Fellowship for the essay that metamorphosed into the
book. This summer, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for
residency at the prestigious Ragdale Foundation, an internationally-acclaimed artists’ community
in Lake Forest, Ill. In addition, she was one of only 10 authors chosen to introduce her book at a
program at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Association meeting set for Spokane later this
Koskela grew up on a farm near Emmett, Idaho, and has been an English teacher, a
newspaper reporter, a special assistant to former Governor Cecil Andrus, and assistant council at
the University of Idaho. She is currently counsel for the Nez Perce Tribe.
“The Pull of Moving Water,” a 120-page paperback book with illustrations and
photographs, is available for $13.95 at bookstores or directly from WSU Press at 800/354-7360.