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Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  851 ratings  ·  73 reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review


Here is Terry Tempest Williams at her best. Sometimes subtly, sometimes emphatically, these delicate and heart-stoppingly lovely essays are offered in service of the wild. This compendium, she writes, "is a gesture and bow to my homeland" -- Utah's Redrock Desert, which, as of the September 2001 publication date, was to be opened up to oil dril
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ebook, 288 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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Helynne
In her typically eloquent plea for love and protection of the American West wilderness, Terry Tempest Williams states, "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come" (215). What a quotation! I can see this chiseled in stone in the offices of the Senate and House of Representatives. If only, our lawmakers an ...more
Sschoville
I'll admit I've started a love affair with Terry Tempest Williams. This book found me at the second hand store; I read it, and now I am feverishly scanning the library for every book she's written. Even if you don't know the desert (myself included), you will fall in love with it because she loves it so much. It also made me ask: what are my stories of the land?
Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Red is a collection of stories and essays about the desert of southern Utah and the necessity of preserving it. None of the stories are more than a few pages long, and they serve to evoke a sense of place for the reader who has not been to these majestic lands. Although some of the stories felt a bit flat on their own, I think as a collection they fulfill their purpose. More compelling than the fictional creations are Williams’ personal recollections and essays.

In “Labor,” Williams muses upon on
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Sandy
We read this powerful book in my reading group..... sadly I got distracted somehow and could not remember the author's name although the subject matter has impacted me greatly in the years since I read it. Williams' name never came back to me until recently when it came up in, of all places, a memorial service for my cousin.... Suddenly I had the link back to RED. I WILL finish at some point.

I am a devout believer in the importance of leaving places UNTOUCHED, UNCOMPROMISED, UNADULTERATED in AN
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Annie
Terry Tempest Williams has alot of wilderness in her soul. I love her for that. She says that until you can cut your arm and bleed red sand, you do not own the redrock country of southern Utah. I can feel the desert around me as I read her words. Her writing is moving and lyrical, however this book is difficult for me. As a Mormon who also believes in conservationism, I love that my Religion has so much room for every good thing. But TTW leaves me feeling a bit hollow in alot of ways. She says t ...more
Matthew Fitzgerald
I was a big fan of When Women Were Birds, T-T-Dubs other great book, and even when I read this while camping and tromping through the red rock canyons of Zion and Utah, this book left me a little colder than WWWB.

The narrative on a whole is a lot more anthologized, piecemeal elements of articles, testimony, short stories, and more. Not that this is inherently bad, but it's also harder for me to pull some great elusive meaning from.

I liked her musings on why she writes, on the sensual and erotic
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Andrew
This collection resonated with me as a fellow lover of the high Utah desert. Some of the essays are truly stunning: Ode to Silence, A Prayer for a Wild Millennium, and Wild Mercy in particular.
Mary Anne
I read this immediately after finishing Terry's latest book, "When Women Were Birds." Having been completely transformed by that incredible narrative, as well as by "Refuge" many years ago, I did not want to set myself up for disappointment with expectations about this book. However, I found myself immersed in it, taking notes and pondering many sections of it. I even shared parts of it with a friend of mine, and we discussed it for hours. Although there were chapters that did not captivate me, ...more
Annette
One of my favorite nature writers, Williams does an outstanding job describing her love of the red canyons of southern Utah. Through short stories and essays, you feel like you're sharing her experiences.
Sherri Vigil
I enjoy journal keeping. Terry's books seem like that to me and she has opened hers to the public. She definitely writes from her comfortable place.
Terri Kempton
I love TTW, and highly recommend some of her other books. This collection is both beautiful and disappointing. The gorgeous descriptions of red rock, slip canyons, and the feeling of being in the Utah desert are a delight for those of us who call this country home. But for the first time, I found her passion so effusive it became forgettable and saccharin. I'm guessing these pieces were not written to be in a collection together, but rather gathered from various sources and outlets because they ...more
Susan Klinke
First off, the title captured my attention. Red. Red is my favorite color. It is passion, fire, blood, life, and the color of so much of the rock that makes up southern Utah. Secondly, the subject, the desert country of southern Utah, ultimately caused me to buy this book, since it is my favorite place.

The southern Utah I know is Canyonlands, Goblin Valley, Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon, Newspaper Rock, the canyon of the Escalante river, Monument Valley...

Southern Utah is a stark and beautiful
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Bob Nichols
This is mostly a flat collection of stories about the importance to Williams of the redrock country in southern Utah, and why it must be preserved and protected. The writing is about her spiritual feelings toward this country, but there's not much, really, about what the rocks and this landscape themselves say. Reflecting her faith, she learns from this country "humility in the face of Creation, reverence in the presence of God." In the voice of Brigham Young, this country reveals, she quotes, t ...more
suz
May 10, 2007 suz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people place and politics - saving wilderness in the Southwest
Red, a Connection of People with Place, September 20, 2001
on Amazon

When Terry Tempest Williams starts this book with her simple equation place + people = politics, you know you've started reading a book meant to have political impact. But as the equation states, and as any TTW reader knows, you will be reading about place and about people, and you will be reading about these things as seen through the honest open heart of Terry Tempest Williams.
Red is a collection of stories, poems, journal ent
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John
ok, so I started off feeling that this wouldn't be my favorite TTW & that perhaps it was more aimed at her female fans than old guys like me, BUT I have to say that some of the prose here is outstanding & Williams captures her love (and sorrow) for the Red-Rock desert wilderness lands as probably nobody else could. We read chunks out loud it around the campfire & parts brought us to tears. This is a wonderful plea for conservation -of ourselves as much as of the land.
Tina Cipolla
I really enjoyed the last TTW book I read, but I absolutely loved Red. Now that I've read two of TTW's books I know what I like so much about her writing. Her life is filled with many family members, fellow Mormons, and other people in her community who are hostile to her deeply held environmentalist views, hostile to her way of earning a living and hostile to her conscious decision not to have children. Yet, her response to all this is not hostility in kind, but this eloquent writing in which s ...more
Elana
I read this book while backpacking deep in the belly of a Southern Utah canyon, and I could not have read it in a better place. In her typical evocative, sensuous prose, Williams waxes poetic, and at times political, about the Utah deserts and canyons that are her home. This desert lanscape with it's red sandstone cliffs, towering canyon walls, endless mazes of dry washes, and highly adapted plant an animal life is beyond unique, it's the only place of its kind in the world. Williams knows this ...more
Stormie Reid
I enjoyed reading about the author's experience in the Utah Desert. The book is essays and journal entries, stories, and testimonies. She tells about some of the Acts passed concerning the Desert Environment. The part about the river cleansing/rebirthing was especially fascinating.
Sarah Nicole
Red is beautifully written, sad, and inspiring. Like Williams, I would love for Congress to pass America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, but I am afraid it is a dream that will not soon become a reality - especially in our current political climate. I am extremely grateful, however, that I have gained more insight into the situation, and I will join her in her fight. Maybe in time, others will come to see that we should not sacrifice wildness and beauty for resources; that we must not surrender the h ...more
Scott White
Terry carries forward the voices and spirits of Muir, Leopoldo, and Abbey's love of the Southwest. An elegant writer with a refined view on conservation and environmental politics.
Michelle
A compilation of essays and writing on the southern Utah/northern Arizona desert. I felt that the chapter content was a little disconnected and wished there was more a narrative thread tying it together.
Naomi
Some lines that I particularly liked:

"Desert Mothers, all of us, pregnant with possibilities, in the service of life, domestic and wild; it is our freedom to choose how we wish to live, labor, and sacrifice in the name of love."

"Perhaps the difference between repetition and boredom lies in our willingness to believe in surprise, the subtle shifts of form that loom large in a trained and patient eye."

"Perhaps an index to misery is when we no longer perceive beauty--that which stirs the heart--or
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John Lamb
If you love the Colorado Plateau and the red rock wilderness of Utah, you will love this collection of sparingly beautiful vignettes.
David Roberts
Beautiful, lyric almost-poetry extolling the beautiful "red rock country" of southern Utah. As one who moved to the Southwest because of my inner resonance with the beauty of the desert, I found the book ringing true on every page.

Also a very strong advocate of wilderness preservation, the book develops multiple cogent arguments for the environmental movement as it pertains to wilderness.

Like many books that are a collection of essays, it doesn't exactly "hang together" in a coherent fashion, b
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Kristen
Not a coherent book like Refuge, instead just a loosely-related group of essays. Most of the essays aren't fully developed either but seem like impressions or journal entries. Although I also consider the red-rock desert to be my home, I didn't understand much of her prose. It seemed like new age puff in places.

However, a bonus is that this book is really a collection of previously published material, so you can save money by buying it instead of the separate works. Two ~books that were previous
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Emily
I thought I would enjoy this more than I did. Although I agree with her stance on wilderness and have seen most of the places she talks about, I was unable to be drawn in by this work. There are some essays that I think are really well done ("Scattered Potsherds" and "Chewing Up A Fragile Land", for example), but much of it is hard to relate to. For me, when she tries to do a more "artistic" piece, it ends up being too obscure and boring.
Ellen Johnson
Aug 23, 2012 Ellen Johnson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mindy wilson; michael mejia
Shelves: memoir
The author writes with an embodied voice, of earth, rock, water, and how the body feels against the natural world. Sensual. Excellent reminder of what is really important about place. I would also recommend her book Refuge.

I like TTWs writing, but this would be better if it were not such a miscellany of essay, prose poetry, pieces from magazines and newsletters, and journaling, including some very dry environmentalist position papers.
Travis McGuire
Superb, beautiful prose leads the reader through Terry's world. Her short essays range from a blistering tone, akin to Edward Abbey (though perhaps a bit more optimistic) to the song of earth like Whitman. They carry too the cadence of the poets. If you are uncertain that the desert conatians beauty, I'd encourage you to pick up this book. And if you love nature, the desert and the poetry of the earth, this is a very very good read.
Jan
Many of my current and recent paintings have flowing red lines of varying width. My artist friend, Kirsten, keeps asking me what all this red means. I often answer, "Passion!" Yet I realize it means much more. This book is a meditation on the desert in Utah and wilderness. However, it is also an exploration of red, both teaching me and impelling me to find what all red means to me in the context of my paintings and my life.
Caroline
This is the second book by Williams I've read, and as with Refuge, I just adored it. Williams is intimate with the desert and has an uncanny capability of translating it to words. This book is lush, is tempting you to experience the desert as she does. It is also a poignant and passionate plea for preservation of the proposed Red Rock Wilderness areas of Utah.
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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
More about Terry Tempest Williams...
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field Finding Beauty in a Broken World Leap

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“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness….

write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine….

I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.”
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“The Eyes of the Future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.” 23 likes
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