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An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  728 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Williams weaves her observations in the naturalist field and her personal experience--as a woman, a Westerner, and a Mormon--into a resonant manifesto on behalf of the landscapes she loves, making clear as well that, through our disregard of this world, we have lost an essential connection to our deepest selves.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 29th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,336)
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Ashleigh Wood
Nov 06, 2007 Ashleigh Wood rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: nature lovers
I read this book while on a 2 night, 3 day solo on a trip in Southern Utah my freshman summer of college. It was incredible. I sat on my little cliff in Canyonlands, looking at the snowcovered La Salle Mountains in the distance, and I read this book that is all centered in the southern utah area. I LOVED IT!!! It talks about how we all have certain landscapes in nature that we identify with naturally. It's neat and will make you feel more connected to your environment, as well as finding beauty ...more
Katharine Holden
Feb 12, 2013 Katharine Holden rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Uninteresting. Labored style.
Aug 05, 2011 Caitlin rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I don’t quite understand my reluctance to embrace this kind of writing, even less so my kneejerk aversion. Example: “Echoes are real – not imaginary. We call out – and the land calls back. It is our interaction with the ecosystem; the Echo System.” I have no problem with living symbolically, but I think I object to the land being symbolic of anything. The land is. Nature is. It is not here to give us meaning or profundity or opportunities for clever wordplay. I don’t doubt her sincerity, but it ...more
Nikki Coffelt
Mar 16, 2011 Nikki Coffelt rated it it was amazing
terry tempest williams is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.. and someone i would just LOVE to one day meet! this delightful book is a compilation of short stories.. quick and easy read.. each story is beautiful in its own way.. some tragic and made me cry, some had me laughing out loud, some were just plain old endearing for reasons i can not capture in words... i find her writing style to be very poetic and poignant and just bought and can not WAIT to read her most recent book, "find ...more
Jack Waters
May 28, 2013 Jack Waters rated it it was amazing
Williams often writes about things I care quite a bit about: Utah's natural beauty and/or quirky culture; environmental activism; birds; mythology; traveling; Edward Abbey; water & hiking & animals in the wild. She writes about the trails I walk on, the mountains I climb, the rivers I traverse.

"Home is the range of one's instincts. [P]atterns... awaken us to our surroundings. Each of us harbors a homeland, a landscape we naturally comprehend. By understanding the dependability of a plac
Craig Werner
Feb 27, 2012 Craig Werner rated it really liked it
This collection reminds me of a scattering of small stones, each with its own kind of beauty, to be appreciated for their individual character rather than as part of a larger pattern. Like Williams' masterpiece Refuge, An Unspoken Hunger is centered in the landscape of the American west and in Williams' fierce feminist environmentalism, which she sees as continuous with her heritage as a Mormon woman. These essays range more widely, however, from the Serengeti to the marshlands of the Bronx and ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Zinta rated it it was amazing
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 collectio
Feb 13, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
I just found this book in a box in my basement. So glad I did! Williams is a great writer and I couldn't put the book down. She talks a lot about her relationships with other naturalists and travels into different parts of the world. Her accounts are usually riveting. Sometimes I found the book a little fruity... like when she talks about the erotic relationship between the wild feminine and the untamed bear. Huh? I mean, I get what she is trying to say but at times I felt like her arguments abo ...more
Apr 03, 2015 Tessa rated it it was amazing
I have started this book so many times but have gotten distracted after the first essay. Finally, I stayed on track. Thank goodness. This collection of essays is both beautiful and wise. The environment, nature, justice, paying attention. Important topics. Beautifully spoken.
Jul 14, 2015 Melissa rated it liked it
not my favorite TTW, but even not my favorite of hers is still pretty great. though i usually love short essays like this, i think in the case of her writing, i prefer the deeper dive of her long-form works, like refuge.
Nov 09, 2008 Pamela rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Environmentalists, women's spirituality
I know I'm in the hands of a wonderful writer when I feel compelled to read their words aloud, to test them on the lips and tongue and feel them take shape in sound. Shakespeare compels me in this way. Muriel Spark has. And now I've discovered Terry Tempest Williams. What took me so long? This collection of essays was published in book form in 1994. So many years of not reading her wasted.

So my advice: Get Tempest Williams and get reading. Then get yourself to the desert parks of Utah. Aaahhhh.

Kerri Stebbins
In the same week (this! week, as it were), I followed my first-ever Abbey (via Down the River) with my first-ever Terry Tempest Williams (via you guessed it: An Unspoken Hunger), and while they are certainly different in their conservationist approaches and conversations, these are two books, two collections, two voices, that weave together nicely. That complement each other the way a smattering of shells complement a stunning coast-line, or the way steep and jagged canyon walls complement a rus ...more
Tina Cipolla
Aug 13, 2015 Tina Cipolla rated it liked it
I really like Terry Tempest Williams, so even though this book was not a favorite, I still enjoyed reading it. This is a collection of thoughts tied together loosely by a strong thread of environmentalism and peace activism.

I was surprised that a nice Mormon girl like TTW was paling around with the likes of Dave Foreman in the '90s but this admission of friendship was one of the serious strengths of the book in that it made me like TTW even more. I believe it takes guts to associate yourself wi
Jun 12, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
Her writing doesn't resonate with me the way it does for others. I liked the story about her uncle, and the end brought tears to my eyes. I didn't realize she was a Mormon, and since I am uncomfortable with much of their doctrine, this got in the way when she would bring it up. Obviously, faith is important and it isn't something I would expect someone to leave out, but it was jarring and felt out of place in many of the essays. Overall, it was a forgettable book, sadly.
Apr 24, 2014 Susi rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this little book. I like reading about people's experiencing of nature whether spiritual or just plain physical. Each chapter is an individual essay, so you can read one, put it down and then go back later and read another. I enjoyed the author's chatty writing. I felt like she was just sitting across from me and visiting with me.
Apr 12, 2013 Marie rated it liked it
Probably should have read Refuge first - to get to know her better. But the essays were interesting and imbued with her sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world.
Cindy Jacobsen
Jan 02, 2015 Cindy Jacobsen rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
This book, although twenty years old, remains relevant. Carrying about wilderness areas, being good caretakers of the Earth, and valuing all life...these are issues current to 2015. Small vignettes make up this nature book. I found myself crying for the coyote and song birds we so carelessly destroy. "... in the midst of wild serenity we as a species choose to shatter it again and again." A perfect read for the new year; take a walk in the wilderness.

"I want to tell what the forests were like.
Feb 13, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The title alone grabbed me, “An Unspoken Hunger.” Wow. And then I noticed the author’s name was “Tempest.” Another “Wow.”

Tempest. That's perfect. This is a book filled with passion: passion for the land, passion for life, passion for the natural world and our place in it. Sensual, peaceful, yet, full of strength. As the jacket copy states, “Through the grace of her stories we come to see how a lack of intimacy with the natural world has initiated a lack of intimacy with each other.”

In her essay
Aug 22, 2015 Doug rated it really liked it
TTW is a prime member of the cadre of the great writers about outdoors and place - McPhee, Carson, Stegner, Doig, Abbey, Beston, Leopold, and the like. She evokes a lyrical feeling of contentment, of being in the place, experiencing what she's experiencing. Certainly one of the foremost of our age in this genre.
Apr 24, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Recommended by Patti C.

Enjoyable, earth-centered stories of the author's ties to the land and political activism. Hard to see where things have gotten any better since she wrote this, so it's kind of discouraging, but also there are reminders of small steps of progress and how a few people can make a difference.

How apt that I finished this book on Earth Day!
Feb 17, 2016 Sonja rated it it was ok
Essays by a naturalist on the importance of respecting and being kind to nature and for people to realize how important nature is in life for our well-being. It was a quick, interesting read that give one a lot to think about.
Dec 05, 2015 andrea rated it it was amazing
She is awesome. I love the way she writes. 9 women in her family have had breast cancer. She loves the earth. Read anything by won't be disappointed. When Women Were Birds is my favorite.
Feb 02, 2014 Nicky rated it really liked it
emotional, visceral nature writing. Short, place based stories. Really liked the place based connections, less so the politics.
Apr 20, 2013 Nan rated it liked it
Warning! The book's packaging does not match the book's contents. With a picture of Landscape Arch on the front, I was fooled into believing the book was mostly about Utah and mostly about the land around Arches National Park. Although it is an addition to the Williams canon, it is not significant contribution to "a literature of the desert". This is a very loose collection of essays. Each essay is well written, but all of the essays together do not add up to a whole.
Jan 15, 2013 Eileen rated it really liked it
This book is a series of inter-related essays, one of which could also be a poem. The prose is quite good and is full of descriptive language. _An Unspoken Hunger_ is similar to another book by Terry Tempest Williams, _Refuge._ Both books are literature of environmental witness, and they explore the connectedness between the environment and women's bodies.

It's a good read. The "bearing witness" tone can become a bit bothersome after a while, though.
Oct 21, 2008 Kristy rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Environmentalists
The book started out interesting, and a few of the stories caught my attention. However, as I read on I slowly began to lose interest. It seems although all of the stories are very much alike. The author has descriptive talent which is shown in the way she describes the environment and her surroundings. I also liked how the author put a few of her personal experiences into the novel, but it just wasn't enough to make it an excellent read.
Nov 27, 2008 Litbitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A collection of mostly short essays, like Refuge. Some of them are simply gorgeous. I was especially taken by the connection she draws between being open to love and being connected to our land: that our fear of being injured or hurt, our fear of putting ourselves at risk, and our fear of losing what we love cripples us in our relationships with wildness and with each other.
Feb 16, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
As early as page 5, there are jewels that make this book a gem. In describing the use of a guide in Maasailand, she eloquently writes: "Samuel smells rain the night before it falls. I trust his instincts and borrow them until I uncover my own." Enjoyed the imagery, the contact with nature and the sense of wholeness Terry brings to her material.
Mar 05, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing
TTW writes about the erotics of place: loving land intimately, as a naturalist. She writes a eulogy for Edward Abbey in this collection, and a long essay about protesting the Nevada test site for nuclear bombs. Her beautiful writing brings me comfort when the madness of the world gets overwhelming.
Oct 22, 2012 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, studies, women-s
This collection of short essays is full of the passion for nature that has drawn me to all the works by Terry Tempest Williams. A quick read, this collection would be a nice introduction for people unfamiliar with her work as a nature writer. One of my favorites is her eulogy for Edward Abbey.
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Terry Tempest Williams is an American author, conservationist and activist. Williams’ writing is rooted in the American West and has been significantly influenced by the arid landscape of her native Utah in which she was raised. Her work ranges from issues of ecology and wilderness preservation, to women's health, to exploring our relationship to culture and nature.

She has testified before Congres
More about Terry Tempest Williams...

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“Members of the Coyote Clan are 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. And they have an enormous range.

The Coyote Clan is a raucous bunch: they have drunk from desert potholes and belched forth toads. They tell stories with such virtuosity that you'll swear you've been in the presence of preachers.

The Coyote Clan is also serene. They can float on their backs down the length of any river or lose entire afternoons to the contemplation of stone.

Members of the Clan court risk and will dance on slickrock as flash floods erode the ground beneath their feet. It doesn't matter. They understand the earth re-creates itself day after day.”
“We hold the moon in our bellies and fire in our hearts. We bleed We give milk. We are the mothers of first words. These words grow. They are our children. They are our stores and poems.” 1 likes
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