Iowa author speaks at Briar Cliff, recalls teen years spent in Ethiopia

Iowa author speaks at Briar Cliff, recalls teen years spent in Ethiopia

Tim Bascom

Tim Bascom, author of the memoir "Running to the Fire" (University of Iowa Press), recently gave a reading of his 2015 memoir in the Meis Recital Hall at Briar Cliff University.

At its core, a good memoir is like the lens of a camera.

Not only should the autobiography allow for the chronicling of a past event, it also requires the author to examine the incident with the maturity that comes with the passage of time.


If we do not pay attention to the causes behind a revolutionary change, history has a way of repeating itself.

— Tim Bascom, author


Those were the thoughts racing through the mind of author Tim Bascom when he was writing "Running to the Fire," a coming-of-age memoir depicting a Midwestern teenager -- the son of Christian missionary parents -- growing up in the streets of Addis Ababa during the Marxist revolution in Ethiopia in the mid-1970s.

"My dad served as a medical doctor when we first moved to Ethiopia," Bascom recalled. "I was 3 years old when we got there and 9 years old when we returned (to the United States)."

Bascom's family went back to Ethiopia when he was in high school.

"My earliest memories of Ethiopia was of a gentle place where everybody was shown respect and deference," he explained. "When my family returned during the revolution, we were considered the enemy and targeted as imperialist sympathizers."

The teenage Bascom's struggle with his faith as well as his role of being the white American Christian missionary child brings energy to "Running to the Fire."

The director of creative writing at Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa, Bascom recently gave a reading of his 2015 memoir in the Meis Recital Hall at Briar Cliff University.

"If we do not pay attention to the causes behind a revolutionary change, history has a way of repeating itself," Bascom said. "That was true in Ethiopia under Marxism. It's also true for the countries existing under ISIS rule."

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Tags: Modern Languages, Academics, Local Media, English, Writing