Essayist Ann Ronald and photographer Stephen Trimble want to redeem Nevada from John Muir's century-old slur that the state "seems one vast desert, all sage and sand, hopelessly irredeemable now and forever." Earthtones: A Nevada Album takes readers beyond the Muir clichés, although the authors admit that the Great Basin is an acquired taste. But the wasteland is not out there, Ronald points out; it is inside the minds of everyone "blankly staring through a car window" and not stopping to appreciate a landscape of teal sky and purple sage, ice cream-colored canyons and crimson masses of cactus flowers.
"I picture Nevada's real mother lode. Not ore but the landscape itself," she says. Surveying the farms and mines of Nevada from horseback a century ago, Muir wrote fervently in the same vein: "Nevada is beautiful in her wildness, and if tillers of the soil can thus be brought to see that possibly Nature may have other uses even for rich soils besides the feeding of human beings, then will these foodless "deserts' have taught a fine lesson."
University of Nevada Press, Mail Stop 166, Reno, NV 89557-0076 (702/784-6573). Cloth: $39.95. 136 pages, 66 color photographs.