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Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,323 ratings  ·  108 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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2002 by Vintage (first published 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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 ...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.
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
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 ...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
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 ...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.
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.
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.
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.
Melissa Matthewson
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A love affair and intimacy of the desert in Utah. Metaphorical, lyric. I used this text in my spring nature writing course as a way to explore how love for place leads to a desire to protect and defend it.
The writing was indeed quite lyrical, but I struggled so much to make it through the book. It did make me want to go back to the beautiful place that is southern Utah, but I do not want to read anymore of this book.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nature
I had read and enjoyed "Refuge" and "When Women Were Birds" by Williams, so I bought this 2001 book of her's also. It is a collection of stories, essays and testimony about the canyons of Utah and their preservation. This book had more of a political flavor.
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.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful meditation on the land and how we treat it.
Rebecca Lartigue
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am letting myself not finish this. Feels overwrought and pretentious, and like a lot of missed opportunities to convince those not already environmental in orientation to care and take action.
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now is a good time to be reading Terry Tempest Williams.
Josephine Ensign
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
An enjoyable read but one that is repetitious in places—at least repetitious from her previous books.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Some great essays, some not as great. Mostly I don't think I was in the mood for this book.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and insightful at times...but more often just rambly and frou frou and too much.
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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
“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.” 32 likes
More quotes…