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An Unspoken Hunger : Stories from the Field Hardcover – April 5, 1994

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Terry Tempest Williams makes it clear that we lose an essential part of ourselves when we neglect the earth, but this collection of essays does not offer a soapbox delivery of tired manifestoes; rather, it uses poetic and insightful inspiration to urge the reader to become aware, assess the damage, and begin to heal broken bonds. In her essay "Yellowstone: The Erotics of Place," Williams writes, "There is no defense against an open heart and a supple body in dialogue with wildness. Internal strength is an absorption of the external landscape. We are informed by beauty, raw and sensual. Through an erotics of place our sensitivity becomes our sensibility."

A native of Utah, Williams is best known for her reflections on the American West, but the first essay in this book takes us to Africa's Serengeti Plain: "Morning comes quickly near the equator. There is little delineation of dawn. On the Serengeti, it is either day or night. A peculiar lull occurs just before sunrise. The world is cool and still. Gradually, the sun climbs the ladder of clouds until the sky mirrors the nacreous hues of abalone."

Through these readings you'll discover that Williams's "unspoken hunger" is for us to live lives with greater intent and accountability and in greater intimacy with the natural world. --Kathryn True --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Naturalist Williams's collection of essays mixes environmental activism, a passion for the landscape of her native Utah and a special concern with the role of women in the environmental cause.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (April 5, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679432914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679432913
  • ASIN: 0679432442
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As the title of one of Terry Tempest Williams' essays states... this collection of immersions into spirit and place are "The Erotics of Place." That is, not just a bodily immersion into her subject, but one of totality. Williams accomplishes that sinking into her well-worded ideas that leaves only the tips of her hair floating on the surface, a faint rippling of the water where she stepped in, and nothing more - she is submerged. And that is a thing of quality.
The essays in this short collection touch on lives of people as well as life force of place. Williams writes about Georgia O'Keefe in "In Cahoots with Coyote" with evident love for the woman, the artist, the landscape: "What O'Keefe saw was what O'Keefe felt - in her own bones. Her brush strokes remind us again and again, nothing is as it appears: roads that seem to stand in the air like charmed snakes; a pelvis bone that becomes a gateway to the sky; another that is rendered like an angel; and 'music translated into something for the eye.'" The essay concludes with Williams, O'Keefe, and coyotes in the canyons of southern Utah howling in harmony.
Williams writes a eulogy for Edward Abbey, another spirit polished by desert sand. She sees Abbey as the leader of a growing Clan, a clan of human coyotes reclaiming their land, "...individuals who are quietly subversive on behalf of the land. And they are infiltrating our neighborhoods in the most respectable ways, with their long, bushy tails tucked discreetly inside their pants or beneath their skirts... not easily identified, but there are clues. You can see it in their eyes. They are joyful and they are fierce. They can cry louder and laugh harder than anyone on the planet..."
This is that total immersion Williams renders so well.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This collection of essays about the soul and ecology of the Great Basin by a brilliant naturalist/essayist/memoirist wanders from Utah to Alaska, then Africa and the halls of Congress. Williams has a wild streak, a touch of dangerousness -- a dozen years after my first reading of the terse title piece involving an avocado, the imagery still evokes a squirm. While still in her thirties Williams became the matriarch of her family thanks in great measure to our ignorant dabbling with atomic weaponry. A death sentence is said to clear the mind, and nuclear "downwinder" status is surely one source of the clarity of vision here expressed. This woman's passion for the living desert, imbued with a scholarly naturalist's understanding, together with her respect for the wisdom and magic of our human and animal past emerges in a delicious mix of science and ghost dance. Part biography, part journal, part testimony, part eulogy -- a taste of salt air and sage which leaves this reader hungry for more. (See my reviews of Williams' REFUGE, Pantheon Books, 1991, and LEAP, Pantheon Books, 2000.)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is beautifully written and very inspiring. I checked it out at the library and after reading it decided I had to have it and got one for a gift too. There are so many worthy quotes in it, I am sure I will keep it forever. Terry Tempest Williams is a true environmentalist yet is never judgemental or negative, always inspiring us to keep our best in mind, and to strive for change in positive ways. Her words and thoughts are heartfelt, deep and provacative, and her historical but personal viewpoint gives weight to her writing and her politics.
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By KH on September 18, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like to keep short books by my bed stand so I can read a couple of pages before bed. This fit the bill but more than that, this author continues to fill my senses with wonder and beauty. I recently got back from a trip to TRNP in North Dakota and Terry narrated a film in the south unit. She is mesmerizing - literally. This book is filled with the passion she has for life and nature. I am never displeased with her work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terry Tempest Williams loves and has a romance for words. This short story book in no different. It is a wonderful book and is glorified by her expansive vocabulary. When painting a picture with words, I can actually visualize the wind blowing through the reeds and the heat sizzling off the desert. Wonderful reading and so Williams.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of essays explores Terry Tempest Williams’ relations with natural landscapes, mostly in the West. It’s advertised as Williams’ “stories from the field,” essays written away from her home in Salt Lake City. That’s not quite right, though - while there are stories from the Serengeti and elsewhere, the essays are mostly grounded in the American desert Southwest, in places like Moab. Because place is important to her, it’s actually best that most stay close to home.

The book includes a healthy focus on antinuclear and peace activism, which follow from her concerns in “Refuge.” However, her more successful essays provide a woman’s voice in the male-dominated area of environmental writing. Her essays include reflections on some of these men, such as an eulogy of Edward Abbey. The collection is not nearly as good as her breakout “Refuge,” but the essays are well worth reading if you like environmental writing.
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