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Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,444 ratings  ·  125 reviews
The beloved author of Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams is one of the country's most eloquent and imaginative writers. The desert is her blood. In this potent collage of stories, essays, and testimony, Red makes a stirring case for the preservation of America's Redrock Wilderness in the canyon country of southern Utah.

As passionate as she is persuasive, Williams writes lyrica
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2002 by Vintage (first published September 11th 2001)
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Feisty Harriet
Jun 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-west
This collection of essays about red rock and canyon country was a little hit and miss. Some of them I *loved* and re-read as soon as I'd finished the first read-through. Others made me angry, "Dear Terry, you can't just go wandering off in the middle of the summer in the desert, barefoot without water. It's a Bad Idea. I don't care how much spirit you feel in the rocks and how much you identify with the landscape. Stop it!" That being said, in many ways, this book is a series of love letters to ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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? ...more
May 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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 and ...more
I love TTW and am in the process of reading as many of her books as I can find at the library. This one, which was written in part to stimulate activist engagement in saving the canyonlands and red rock wilderness in Utah from exploitation, was not my favorite. TTW is deeply connected to the West and her family's roots there and like most of her books, that connection features prominently in this one.

This is a collection of essays, some published previously, that focuses on this desert land
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017reads
On a quest for lady naturalists to counterpoint Edward Abbey's crabby borderline misogyny, I came across Terry Tempest Williams. I wasn't sure-- first couple chapters, and the quartet at the end, are pretty woo woo. But it's reasonable. I fell in love with Utah's slickrock desert and it's well worth being a little wacky over. There is much good, nutritional nature and solitude meditations in here, and some really nice thinking about society vs wilderness. ...more
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. ...more
Sherri Vigil
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-world
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
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I keep trying, and failing, to enjoy Terry Tempest Williams's writing. When I first read Refuge as a first-year college student, I was not a fan. I later taught that same first-year literature course and had to teach Refuge in class. Through that experience, I came to enjoy the book a bit more, but only a bit. Before my recent trip to Bryce and Zion in Utah, her book Red came up on a recommended reading list, and I decided to give Terry Tempest Williams's writing another go. It was a quick read, ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Clark Hays
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely, transformative book about a lovely, transformative place.

Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, by Terry Tempest Williams, was my go-to book on a recent road trip to Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion parks (sadly, we didn’t have time for Bryce Canyon). It was an amazing trip to some of the most breathtaking wild places in the country, and the book was the perfect companion. For the sake of full disclosure, I planned on re-reading Desert Solitaire (Abbey) but was put off by s
The first time I saw the red rock country of the Four Corners area, I was awed. It is awesome. Not in the way the word is currently over-used, as a verbal hiccup to overpraise the mundane and trivial, but the true definition of awesome: inspiring an overwhelming sensation of reverence, admiration, and fear.

To put that is some perspective, I am most definitely not an outdoor enthusiast. (People think I am joking when I say my idea of camping involves room service. I most definitely am not joking
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Terry Tempest Williams always makes me remember why I love Utah’s red rock deserts—the dry hot air, red dust, swirling Colorado. After reading this I want to roll around in the mud, sleep under the clear sky, and watch the moonrise reflect off the canyon walls.

But then I remember my last trip to Moab and the hoards of people up Mill Creek, leaving their bags of dog shit and garbage everywhere. I remember the creeping sprawl of houses expanding on all sides. And I remember my favorite river beac
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I grew up in Utah, camping in Southern Utah, hiking in the desert. I loved the adventure of it, but never really saw it as beautiful. In fact, I always thought the desert was kind of ugly. I've now lived on the East Coast for 11 years, surrounded by the green that I always longed for (and that I love). But a few years ago, on one of our annual trips back home, I revisited Southern Utah with my children and saw the desert with new eyes. I finally saw it for the other-worldly majesty that it is. A ...more
David Doty
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My two favorite authors are Wallace Stegner and Terry Tempest Williams. Stegner's fiction(Angle of Repose, Big Rock Candy Mountain, etc.) and nonfiction (Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, etc.) books are raw and searing accounts of the geography and peoples of the American West. Williams' nonfiction descriptions of Western wilderness, from national parks to bird refuges to scorching deserts, are beautiful and haunting.

In Red, Williams writes a series of meditations on the red rock landscapes of sou
Angelica LeMinh
Jul 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Terry Tempest Williams is a very special writer. I got this book as a gift from a white man of a certain age group, and passed it along to another white man of that same age.

In reality, another book of hers, When Women Were Wolves was the gift that the same man gave me that resonated in a way that he had no way of knowing, and I feel this one was closer to his own values.

The desert is a place that I'd like to visit one day, and this book offered a curated peek from a POV that I value a lot. I st
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was published in 2001 when the GW Bush administration was trying very hard to open up wilderness areas in Utah and neighboring states to exploitation by oil, gas and mineral companies by turning back the protections that the Clinton administration had put in place. In “Red” Williams explains the events and the political battle and most importantly explains why having small islands of protected land here and there prevents natural species of all types, plants, animals, insects… from mai ...more
This is one of the most tragic premature book abandonments ever-- the parts that are lucid vignettes and essays are extremely important, and perfect, above even Edward Abbey, and it's evident and special that the author feels the same way about the desert as I do, and being actually from Utah instead of from New York like everyone else who writes books about the Southwest. But, then it veers into the bizarre-- Wicca or something, inaccessible poetry, overly impressionistic short stories, format ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book 44 of 2018: Red by Terry Tempest Williams. This book continues to be timely given the attacks on Utah's public lands.Her testimony before Congress on the Utah Public Lands Management Act of 1995 could be almost word for word be present for the Emery County lands bill that has been presented by Utah's delegation.
It is a series of essays about personal encounters with the red rock canyon country of Utah as well as a summary of America's Redrock Wilderness Act.
I tried reading this a few years
Stephen Kelly
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this on an early morning plane to Utah. Williams's REFUGE, which is an absolute masterpiece, was largely responsible for taking me to Utah in the first place. This collection, however, was disappointing. Much of the writing seemed rushed, and nothing much sank in for me. The titular essay about discerning variation in color was interesting, and of course I support her intentions, but I can't say that anything from this book has really lingered with me a week after reading it. Perhaps I sh ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
My good friend sent this to me forever ago because she was living in Zion and it spoke to her soul, and I started it once, then started it again recently, and I just can't do it. I feel like I really WANT to like it, and I like the IDEA of it, but for some reason it just doesn't do it for me. I didn't finish the whole thing, so maybe it all comes together at the end, but I think I'm done trying it. ...more
Sarah Rogers
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I re-read this book a decade after originally reading it, and I realize now how much Terry’s words have helped shape my own spirituality over time. This book has held up as a kind of Bible for me — poetry and prose that guides my morals, gives voice to my values, reminds me of my interconnectedness with earth and its creatures. “Red” has reinvigorated my love of Terry Tempest Williams, and I hope to soon be checking out more of her works from my local library.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found that I needed to have a more thoughtful mindset while reading this book. I love the red rock country of southern Utah and have visited all of the National Parks located there, so I relate to much of what she wrote regarding an appreciation of that land. I feel like her purpose in this collection of essays is to help awaken and develop a love for the wilderness of this Earth that we are stewards of, to inspire us to care for it.
Will Waller
This book is a collection of writings honoring the red rock of Utah. It's not really my style of writing, although it came highly recommended by the Utah state writers association as representative of good Western poetry and prose. It's pretty strange, admittedly, with naked women prancing through the desert and wind, earth, water, and sky each having a chapter. This was a skim, and not much stuck from the book. ...more
Jo Benson
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting collection of pieces that gives a great insight into the political climate of Utah (as far as environmentalism and national parks go, at least) and the author's personal connection with her home. It was very interesting for nonfiction, but did stray into the realm of strange more than once. Which isn't always a bad thing. ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A collection of essays and stories which embody Williams' love for Utah's slickrock country and which persuades the reader to care about the area as well. Poetic, wrenching, and powerful, it stands the test of time and re-reading and perhaps is even more relevant now than when initially published. A wonderful book. ...more
Mark Mulcahy
This was my first introduction to Terry. Read while sitting in a hot springs in Northern Idaho.
I given this book away to more people than I can count. Sometimes just because its precisely what the moment called for when a friend or stranger needed it way more than I.
If you want a set of stories to take you away in heart and spirit these stories from the desert will take you there.
Doug Wells
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Terry Tempest Williams is in a class of her own - the landscape of her world and mind becomes poetry. Sometimes too "out there" for me, more often, full of wisdom and melodic beauty. Always a treat to read her. ...more
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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

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Sally Thorne, author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine, explores what it means to take risks for love, and for yourself, in her newest...
93 likes · 9 comments
“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.”
“The Eyes of the Future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.” 35 likes
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