Susan Brind Morrow's lyric prose wades the deep waters of life, death, and the meanings of words. Her narrative evokes the smell of raw, wet earth from her Finger Lakes childhood, the red rock of the Egyptian desert she travels, dead Greek words she studied "like shards of some wonderful glass," and fluid Arabic where "a name is a mirror to catch the soul of a thing, and a pun is the corner of its garment." Seeking desert solace for her siblings' deaths, Brind adventures through Egypt's Red Sea Hills and Sudan's wadis, studying the birth of language amid its natural, living origins.
From Library Journal
From a lifetime of combining the study of nature and a fascination with language emerges the beautiful story of Morrow's journey?both physical and spiritual?from her childhood in rural New York to the magnificent deserts of Egypt and Sudan. Memories interlace and enrich this lean yet richly descriptive narrative, particularly the unexpected tragedies of her brother's and sister's deaths. After studies of Arabic and Egyptian hieroglyphs at Barnard College, leading to her first archaeological survey in Egypt in 1980, Morrow traveled extensively in the Middle East and Africa, living with nomadic tribes, courting adventure, and recording her experiences in a mixture of prose, Linnaean descriptions, and etymological pleasures. But more than simply a diarist, Morrow becomes a part of her desert milieu, in a region where women have had little freedom. This work imparts a quality not unlike the writing of Isak Dineson or Jane Goodall. Highly recommended.?Kay Meredith Dusheck, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City
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