erica's Reviews > Finding Beauty in a Broken World

Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams
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's review
Jan 06, 2014

it was ok
bookshelves: environmental, art
Read from May 31 to June 02, 2012

I really wanted to like this book; my sister gave it to me and I was so looking forward to reading it that I had saved it to enjoy while travelling! Having also been involved in some community mosaic projects it seemed like a perfect read.

Unfortunately, I had a very hard time getting into the style of this book. The sentences are short and there are many incomplete sentences- just phrases. The page format- lots of mini-paragraphs- came across choppy to me and made it difficult for me to immerse myself.

No doubt the author intended this style of directness, as it reads like her diary- posing questions, fleeting thoughts and stream of memory associations- but I found myself wishing an editor had forced Williams to rewrite, including thoughtful recaps and reflections and consolidating redundancies.

Ultimately, I felt that it came across as hoping to be profound.
It can be a great device but in the end I felt that this style, especially the way she included all the segments- quotes from writers and lengthy extracts from other sources - to be a bit of a shoddy device in lieu of really tying together some more cohesive thoughts of her own.

This seemed like a really personal work- Williams is clearly trying to process the death of her close brother- but I just didn't find it accessible enough as an outsider. I see where she was trying to go, tying all these concepts together, but felt like it never got there.

I almost gave up during the actual transcriptions of her prairie dog daily journal, but ploughed on through and was glad to learn about the dogs themselves and their plight, but like the last section, felt like it could have been told with just as much empathy in a lot less pages. I actually skimmed the last 100 or so pages.

What kept me going as far as I did was that I hoped to hear her ideas on how one might or she did find beauty in such a broken world. Not only as a human, but as an artist myself, I think this is an important topic, and was interested in hearing her perspective on this as a writer. We never really do.

I enjoyed her footnotes at the end - regarding her interview with the mosaicist Orsoni - and I did dog ear a number of pages, there are great quotes and gems amid the disarray.
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05/31/2012 page 230

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