Among desert rats and river lovers, folk singer and activist Katie Lee is legendary. A Hollywood actress in her youth, Lee started running Southwestern rivers in her 30s and became an outspoken defender of her beloved Colorado River. She fought the damming of Glen Canyon, and celebrated its beauty and mourned its loss in All My Rivers are Gone. In her latest book, Sandstone Seduction: Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and Friends, she similarly alternates between hilarity and fury.
Lee’s new work is a breathless boat ride down
a wild river. Her words grab us like a strong current and swirl us
past scenes from her brave and bold life: singing in a Mexican
brothel, learning the ropes in 1940s Hollywood, cycling nude
through town to mark a friend’s death, guiding a cumbersome
boatload of newbie rafters, nearly freezing to death in a dark
desert canyon. She’s raucous, lively, irreverent; the kind of
woman your grandma might have been if she’d hiked naked and
Now over 80, Lee still writes with
freshness and spunk, and with a sense of celebration rather than
mourning. Hers isn’t the most polished prose you’ll
ever read, but you’ll giggle, weep, and maybe even snort
coffee out your nose as you savor her take on eight decades of
roaming the West and its rivers. And if you read this book and then
go put your toes in the Green or the Snake or the Colorado, maybe
you’ll find, as Katie did, that "you’ve learned as much
about yourself as you have about the river."
Sandstone Seduction: Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and
Johnson Books, 2004
From folk singer to fierce activist — the life of Katie Lee
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