As a lifelong desert dweller, Terry Tempest Williams is intimately familiar with the multiple shades of red, and she explores many of them, among other things, in this tribute to the desert and canyon country of southern Utah that she holds so dear. In this collection of essays, poems, congressional testimony, and journal entries (some previously published), she ruminates on the meaning of wilderness and the need to preserve it as a way to save ourselves as much as the land itself. In Red
, she lends an elegant and passionate voice to the growing "Coyote Clan" in southern Utah--"hundreds, maybe even thousands, of individuals who are quietly subversive on behalf of the land"--along with the many others ideologically in step with this movement. She also discusses those deeply resentful of active environmentalists as well as those seething at the U.S. government for the way it manages millions of acres of western land, writing that "Federal control in the American West remains an open wound." Some of these contrary voices even come from within her own clan, a reality she describes in an essay in which she gently debates the merits of the Endangered Species Act with her father and other family members who own and operate a construction company in Utah.
A beloved nature writer and environmental voice, Williams writes emotionally and even erotically of her relationship with the red-rock landscape surrounding her home outside Moab, closely analyzing the wildlife, human characters, and Anasazi petroglyphs of this magical, arid region. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
Shaped by wind, heat and the etchings of rare water, the deserts of the American West are at the heart of Williams's numerous writings on the need to preserve wilderness (Leap; Refuge). This new collection of writings (some of which have been published before) is inspired by her daily experiences with the Southwestern desert, Anasazi petroglyphs and small shifts in time at her home outside Moab, Utah. Contributing to the movement to protect these fragile landscapes, she encourages her readers to consider the desert as a threatened national commons, drawing in the life around her to express just how the desert inhabits her and makes her more human. Included here are two of the works that have defined Williams as a central voice in the environmental movement: "Desert Quartet," which is made up of simple and erotic personal essays, and "Coyote's Canyon," comprised of the lovely tales of desert people. To these she adds pieces that center on her move out of Salt Lake City, her study of the meanings of the color red and, most importantly, the imperative to create national protection for land that cannot protect itself from each step of development and population growth. Although there are repetitions between the sections and at times Williams sounds desperate, the collection resonates with an inspiring and convincing devotion that cannot be set aside.
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