Looking for the Language of Red

  • Book cover of "Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert"

 


Even in its hardcover form, Terry Tempest Williams' new book, Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, is small enough to fit easily into your backpack, the one you might carry if you happened to be taking a trip through, say, the redrock country of southern Utah. The book's size is no accident. A collection of essays, topo-maps, newspaper clippings, journal entries, and congressional testimony, Red is like a pocket guide for the wilderness activist with a poetic bent. It's a compelling meditation on the burnished deserts of Utah, where Williams lives and writes. Beyond that, it's a useful resource. The appendix includes the text of the "Redrock Wilderness Act of 2001," and phone numbers for such conservation groups as Great Old Broads for Wilderness.


Despite the hue of the book's title, Williams' prose in Red can tend towards the purple. But what makes the book so satisfying is that as Williams juxtaposes her musings on the erotic nature of the desert with excerpts from the police blotter in a small town newspaper, she allows the language of each text to enrich the others. Never before have I read the findings of a congressional bill with such rapture. Legislation rings with poetry, and a private moment in a steep canyon is a moving testament to the importance of wilderness preservation. Ultimately, Red is an attempt to reconcile the divided West, through what Williams calls "the language of Red." She writes, "There is danger with red. Red is rage is hot, too hot to touch ... But to see red over time is to understand its capacity to transform. White horses in our valley eventually turn red." If our region's battles over land use are usually fought in the political arena, fueled by angry rhetoric and accusation, then Williams' book offers a tantalizing alternative. Red looks for a common language that might bring Westerners together on a personal level, through their passion for the land.

Krissy Clark is production assistant for Radio High Country News. To hear more about Red, head to www.hcn.org/radio. Terry Tempest Williams reads from her book, and discusses the redrock wilderness that inspired it, in a recent interview on Radio High Country News.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....