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
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • ENDANGERED SPECIES STAFF SCIENTIST
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a staff scientist to advocate for the conservation of endangered species. General position overview: The position will involve working...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
    The Center for Biological Diversity - a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of imperiled plants, animals and wild places - seeks a dynamic...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Staff Attorney to join our team of attorneys, scientists, campaigners who are working to protect America's public lands...
  • SOUTHWEST CONSERVATION ADVOCATE
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Southwest Conservation Advocate to join our team of attorneys, scientists and campaigners who are working to protect America's...
  • OCEANS PROGRAM CAMPAIGNER
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks an experienced campaigner for its oceans program. The aim of the position is to campaign for the protection of...
  • CLIMATE LAW INSTITUTE ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute is looking to add an attorney to its team and will consider applicants at both staff attorney...
  • FULL-TIME CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a full-time Campaign Director in our Climate Law Institute to join our campaign for progressive, urgent government action to...
  • WESTERN WATER PROJECT MANAGER
    National Wildlife Federation is hiring NM-based position focused on riparian corridors, watershed health. Learn more and apply online: https://www.nwf.org/about-us/careers
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Associate Program Director Location: New Mexico; flexible in state Position reports to: Senior Program Director Position Closes: March 13, 2020 GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The...
  • DEAN, W. A. FRANKE COLLEGE OF FORESTRY AND CONSERVATION, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
    Dean, W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, apply http://bit.ly/2548umjobs. AA/EEO/ADA/Veterans Preference Employer
  • GRAPHIC DESIGNER
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a creative and driven graphic design professional to design high quality print and digital collateral. The Graphic Designer will bring...
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • CAMPAIGN REPRESENTATIVE
    Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign is hiring an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry on the Gulf...
  • AG LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Oregon Agricultural Trust (OAT) seeks passionate relationship builder experienced in coordinating agricultural conservation easement transactions.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • FINANCE DIRECTOR
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Coms/Engagmnt Mngr; Dev/Engagmnt Dir; Americorps vol
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Dev/Engagement Dir; Coms/Engagement Mngr; & Americorps volunteer
  • SEASONAL TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    Lead the nation's premier volunteer-based trail crew programs on the spectacular Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This is a great career-building opportunity for rising professionals....
  • ORGANIZING AND TRAINING COORDINATOR
    Is this your dream job? Are you looking to join a nationally recognized organizing network, live in a spectacular part of the West, and work...