Craig Werner's Reviews > When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
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's review
Jun 20, 12

bookshelves: west, womens-lit, nature, religion-spirituality
Read from June 11 to 20, 2012

Close to Refuge at the top of the Terry Tempest Williams list. Shortly before she died, Williams' mother (a descendent of the Romney family we've been hearing so much about), gave TTW three shelves of journals, covering thirty years. When Williams opens them after her mother's death, she finds they're blank. This book mines the silence. Incorporating pieces of previously published essays, strengthened by the new context, TTW sounds the themes which define her previous work: the western landscape; her search for a language adequate to women's experience; her love of various art forms (a great piece on John Cage and one that I suspect will speak more directly to opera lovers on The Woman Without a Shadow); political rage directed primarily against the corporate interests laying waste to the wilderness; confronting mortality. There were a few points where I wished she hadn't underlined the take-home message quite so many times, but that a minor quibble. This is a book I'll come back to, one which goes on my shelf of Western classics.

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