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Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert Paperback – October 8, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375725180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375725180
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

She is the award-winning author of Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, Refuge & most recently Red - A Desert Reader. She lives in Castle Valley, Utah.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When Terry Tempest Williams starts this book with her simple equation place + people = politics, you know you've started reading a book meant to have political impact. But as the equation states, and as any TTW reader knows, you will be reading about place and about people, and you will be reading about these things as seen through the honest open heart of Terry Tempest Williams.
Red is a collection of stories, poems, journal entries and thoughts centered in one place, the redrock desert of southern Utah. While reading Red I found myself feeling similarities with it and Steinbeck's The Long Valley and The Pastures of Heaven. Like both of those books, Red tells the different stories of separate people and the one place that connects them. But unlike those books, the stories in Red span hundreds of years. The place remains relatively unchanged through time. But the people and civilizations pass through this unchanging landscape living, making their mark on the land, and dying. TTW tells these stories in geologic time-desert time. The people stay connected.
Hands connect the people. Hands appear everywhere in the book. Hands are the link between past, present and future. Hands come from the past in geologic forms with Anasazi handprints on clay pots and redrock walls, and a sharp obsidian chip "worked by ancient hands". They are in the present in biologic forms with a hand sliced open by the same sharp obsidian chip; one hand on the belly of a petroglyph while the other rests on a human belly in the present; and the story of children holding out hands to catch the desert's tears that drip from ferns. Then in the final paragraph hands are formed in prayer: "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By K. Parsons on February 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Terry Tempest Williams is without a doubt one of the finest writers to tackle the intricacies of the American West in literature of any sort. Carrying her own torch is impressive enough, but Williams also evokes the activism and urgent motivation that calls us to appreciate, respect and save our remaining western wilderness that was so powerfully put into words by Edward Abbey. I have reviewed a portion of "Red" before (see "Desert Quartet"), so I will limit this review to the remainder of "Red".
Williams carries on the great and ancient tradition of storytelling to raise consciousness about uniquely Western, and specifically Colorado Plateau, issues. From the Hopi and Navajo peoples, down through the early American explorers, the proverbial cowboys and the present activist community, storytelling has been a central method of encapsulating emotion, opinion and experience into messages that have wide appeal. Williams, in stories such as "Coyote's Canyon" here in "Red", presents her powerful vision of an environmental movement wrapped in the spiritual connection with the stark, often harsh, always awe inspiring desert and given wings by action. Like Abbey, Williams does not shy away from controversy, and her opening to the title essay is a list of places that strangely grows longer each time I contemplate the names set forth. Williams gets personal here, and the blunt approach of listing over a hundred places brings to my mind the fact that I have walked on much of that ground... and that I have seen the critical need to protect these remaining places from the industrious uses and agricultural manipulation that has occured on the infinitely vaster balance of the Colorado Plateau. In this way, "Red" has demonstrated its effectiveness.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cole Wilmot on April 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Both a piece of literary artistry and passionate activism, "Red"'s audience appeal is the broadest of any book I've ever read. The book's structure, both wild and bounded by cadences of space, conforms strategically to Ms. Williams' conceptual take on the color red - red represents heat, anger, unpredictability, the lifeblood of the earth that runs through human beings and all earth's creatures, and is concentrated in the searing deserts of the American West where Ms. Williams lives. A thematic tapestry though it is, it is, at its core, a living breathing message presented selflessly and succinctly by a woman who I believe understands the need for a lifelong journey down the parallel rails of human and non-human nature until these rails converge. I recommend this book highly.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book made me feel very guilty that I am not out there taking a stand on conservation, supporting a cause, or putting my land into a conservation easement. Her passion as well as commonsense about wild areas is contagious! She clearly defines the political and social situations surrounding land use through a variety of short stories ranging from disagreements within her family to lyrical myth. Even though Red is about the Southwest US, it is about land use everywhere. As with all Williams's books, the writing is marvelous.
This should be required reading for everyone who deals with land use (yes, developers included), is passionate about conservation regardless of what part of the world they live in, and all who recognize the need for wild places to sooth our souls and give us some perspective on life.
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