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Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land Hardcover – February 19, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this clouded memoir, Irvine, former development director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), pursues her tortuous trajectory from a loosely Mormon upbringing to strident environmental activism. Irvine writes from the fresh grief of her father's suicide: a fierce atheist with a Mormon pedigree, her father divorced her mother when Irvine was 10, drank heavily and gradually grew estranged from his family before shooting himself in the heart. With her mother and sister, Irvine grew up a Jack Mormon (one whose belief in the Church of the Latter Day Saints has lapsed), endured a brief marriage with a yuppie vegetarian and found true love with a lawyer named Herb, with whom she moved to San Juan County, Utah. As Irvine, a grant-proposal writer, and Herb both worked for the SUWA, their advocacy for public lands pitted them in uncomfortable opposition to the pro-development, cattle-friendly interests of their largely Mormon neighbors. Irvine structures her memoir cannily around the four eras of local Native American prehistoric culture (Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker and Pueblo), each reflecting a period of migration and settlement in her own life. However, her work is filled with so much tertiary detail that emotional resonance is rare. Still, her views on wilderness preservation ring passionately and her research is sound. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* The Mormon ranchers of Utah’s red-rock country hate environmentalists as much as coyotes, and believe women belong at home with their children. As a wilderness advocate and renegade Mormon, Irvine is, therefore, apprehensive about living in contested San Juan County with her ardent public-lands-use attorney lover. As she hikes breathtakingly beautiful, ruins-studded canyons, she vividly imagines the lives of the long-vanished hunter-gatherers and contrasts their ways of being with ours. Bold and original in her thinking, candid and lyrical in expression, Irvine launches a penetrating critique of Mormon sovereignty, the persistent oppression of women, the longing to belong versus the need to be one’s self, and the environmental havoc wrought by cattle ranching, “extreme recreationists,” and the federally sanctioned, post-9/11 rush to extract fossil fuels from protected public lands. Haunted by her complicated heritage as a descendant of one of the original Mormon Saints as well as nonconformists––especially her grandmother Ada, an artist who found meaning in the desert’s mercurial beauty, and her father, who lived to hunt and died at his own hands––Irvine suspensefully chronicles the rancor and stress of advocacy work and a bewildering health crisis. Forthright and imaginative, sensitive and tough, Irvine joins red-rock heroes Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams in breaking ranks and speaking up for the living world. --Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1st edition (February 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865477035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865477032
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #894,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Everett Ward on March 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an eloquent, lyrical, and insightful account from the frontlines of the struggle to redefine our relationsips to Western landscapes. With a foot in both the Mormon ranching world of her ancestors and the world of conservation activism she has adopted, Amy Irvine struggles to reconcile her divided heart and loyalties. Although the struggles described are contemporary, this is really an old tale made fresh. The great writer Wallace Stegner said that the history of the American West is the struggle between "boomers" and "stickers." Boomers are those who came to make a quick killing and end up on easy street - the conquistadors, gold miners, land scalpers, and good ol' boy developers. Stickers, or "nesters," are those who try to understand the limits and needs of the land and live within them. But the division is too simple. In our consumer culture we all exhibit the behaviors of boomers and yet we all want to feel we are at home and in good relationship. This difficult struggle to sort out the conflicts and find balance is central to Amy's account. Ultimately, this is a quest for wisdom told with courage and compassion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amy Irvine is a gifted writer whose prose kept me reading in spite of feeling offended several times in nearly every chapter about a variety of subjects including the LDS Church, the little town of Monticello I grew up in, cattle ranching and the seemingly inflexible wilderness attitudes. My younger brother enjoys riding what he calls a four wheeler and she calls an ORV to see the incredible sights of the Colorado Plateau she so beautiful describes in her book. It is clear that she and I share a love of the redrock country. As a retired psychiatrist I enjoyed her fearless and at times appropriately veiled exposé of her personal and family dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed the interweaving of her knowledge of ancient San Juan County cultures into the fabric of her personal story. The ending chapters were unsettling to me and I am not sure I can explain why. Is it because it seems she has given up her passionate quest? Is it because her trespass metaphor became blurred? Is it because she became ill? I don't know. I will let it continue to percolate in my mind and I may read it again. I recommend it. I agree with Terry Tempest Williams, "This is a transformative memoir that dances between shadow and light.
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Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put it down. Irvine's writing is real and eloquent. She masterfully blends history, community and raw emotion into a riveting tale of life in a small, southern Utah town.
Trespass is sure to become a modern western classic.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Irvine's book speaks to the soul. It carries a message of loss and hope, of death and life, and of the virtues of solitude and togetherness. Her portrait of her mate, Herb, the so-called "Lion Man" who embodies the wildness of the red rock desert she loves, is particularly intriguing. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Amy Irvine has given us permission, ever so briefly, to enter into a world that cannot truly be understood without living it ourselves. Her story is such a generous sharing of the spirit and an honest understanding of who she is, where she has come from, and where she yearns to be. I see her place descriptions echoed vividly in my mind and I rejoice in her journey.
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Format: Hardcover
Irvine's book is a totally engrossing read, a page turner, an emotion igniter. To experience it took me first into a realm of accompanying Irvine in her journey through her promised land and the splits that are created as she negotiates the conflicts and inconsistencies. The from-the-heart, graphic language of her memoir soon drew me into a realm of examining my own journey through my place that is, like Irvine's, the high desert southwest. Throughout the book I was struck by the ironies of Irvine's descriptions of the natural beauty of her patch and the way that so many of its inhabitants are willing to ignore and to trash the natural balances of the place. It's a great read for those who have the courage to be challenged by the realities of their own journeys through their place. The west, with its diverse values, history, and cultures, is one of the most challenging, and Irvine has captured it eloquently and thoughtfully for us.
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Format: Hardcover
My partner and I both read Trespass and LOVED it. The way she innerweaves her story with history kept me trasfixed. I could not put this book down. Trespass helped me look at my life and how I exist among people I am at odds with. I have come in contact with some after the book and thought about all she has learned and practiced communicating better myself. It doesn't always have to be a fight. I love that. We all can learn from Trespass. We all can learn to be better people and this book certainly helped me. Im thankful I didn't miss this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I deeply appreciate the depth of questioning Amy Irvine has so obviously journeyed through. She speaks from an unmistakable place of courage & wisdom. Her words encourage the quality of exploration that instructs hearts & minds. Her conclusions inspire listening & engagement.
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