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Erosion: Essays of Undoing

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  283 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Fierce, timely, and unsettling essays from an important and beloved writer and conservationist

Terry Tempest Williams's fierce, spirited, and magnificent essays are a howl in the desert. She sizes up the continuing assaults on America's public lands and the erosion of our commitment to the open space of democracy. She asks: "How do we find the strength to not look away
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Sarah Crichton Books
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
"We are eroding and evolving, all at once."

Terry Tempest Williams tackles the theme of erosion and undoing throughout these essays - examining topics of public lands, family, career, belief. There is an underlying tension between connectedness and grief that I've experienced in her writing before.

I'm posting this a few days after finishing and I just keep thinking about her losing her job at the University of Utah after she and her husband tried protecting some land by forming a trust and
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This essay collection looks at many erosions - of the self through aging and life trials, of the land, and, mainly, of the American political culture. TTW’s strength is in the personal essay, and the essays included here are passionate, insightful, and beautifully written. Other pieces were not as strong, but the collection overall was powerful.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oof- this book is what the withered soul needs. For those of us living under oppressive Trump Era policies, Terry Tempest Williams says what we’re all feeling- with regards to his environmental (non)protection policies. She has had to live closely with them, as a resident of Utah, and an advocate for public and indigenous lands. Her essays are beautiful, personal, and reverent. She is reverent to herself, her land, and her people in a way that many of us have forgotten, or never learned.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Terry Tempest Williams is a voice to be heard. A modern day Rachel Carson. With sincerity, honesty, and grit, her essays speak to all of us-to stop, listen, and reform.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poignant and timely, this collection speaks to the heart of our environmental crisis and the people we must become to weather the storm of our collective discord with the natural world to this point. Tempest Williams deftly weaves personal heartache and evolution into her plea for us to care enough to act, to let one life form mean as much as any other, to build beauty again in a world that we have all but destroyed through greed and complacency. An absolute must read for all who care about the ...more
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
i smell the wound and it smells like me. this wound will not heal and is spreading as an infection. stabbed by our illusions and legacies of grandeur, we stagger through our forests of consumption. we are lost. we are in pain. and we don't know the cause or the cure of what is making us sick. we long for something more, when what we have is more than enough. we are becoming blind. we are becoming deaf. we are hobbling along the path of distractions, trying to find our way back or forward or
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nature
Erosion is the perfect metaphor for these often heart breaking, sometimes piercingly beautiful, essays. These writings both mourn and celebrate the powerfully changing landscape of the desert Southwest and the ties that bind us to the natural world.
Morgan Brown
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
"A Galapagos Journal" and the conversation between TTW and Tim DeChristopher were favorites of mine from this collection.
Jacob Mclaws
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
There’s a somber tone to all of these essays. I heartily agree with almost all of TTW’s feelings from environmental activism to disdain for patriarchal structures upheld by Mormons and the Mormon church. I had some trouble getting warmed up to her writing voice, however. The essay about her talk with a public lands rights activist who was going to prison for his civil disobedience was one of the first in the book that I really enjoyed, but I thought it was very interesting and provocative.

Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful, beautiful book. I live on the far east coast of America, but Terry Tempest Williams transports the reader to the West, and by the end you will start to recognize place names, and feel like you have come to know a little more about why these places are so important. You know, now that I think of it, my favorite playwright is Sam Shepard, which was really all I had read of the west before. Reading these essays makes me want to go back to those plays.

One of the most powerful
Ray Zimmerman
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Terry Tempest Williams is devoted to the preservation of public lands. She mourns the recent undoing of their protection. In the final section tells us that the time for anger is past, it is time for healing. She sees healing as restoration. She reveals a few bright spots of healing the landscape near the end of the book.

Bears Ears National Monument appears periodically in the book, but is ever present in the subtext. She documents efforts to preserve the area going back to Secretary of the
Susan Emmet
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Erosion and evolution - of landscape, self, democratic processes, protected lands, religion and a sense of hope for some sort of future.
TTW captures what I have been feeling and thinking for several years. She leaves readers stripped of illusion and delusion and propped by a radical sense of hope.
Wind, water, time.
Essays of undoing on multiple levels.
Disgust coupled with some hope.
I look for the owl.
And cannot write more right now. Writing accurately is hard for me in the face of the
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
I dunno, this felt like I had to be in the right kind of mood for it. That said, even though I am 100% for nature and environmental protection and totally against Trump, this also felt repetitive and maybe more angry than I had the energy for. I'm just here, listlessly, restlessly waiting for our next president (please god).
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. A fave author, Terry Tempest Williams' voice is one we need to hear now more than ever. Spiritual, informed, and brave, she is a longtime voice for engaging in the protection and preservation of public lands. Her reverence for the sacred spaces we share is hopeful and inspiring. Focused on the ongoing attempts by profiteers, big business, and our current huckster-in-chief to dismantle environmental protections and national park land, these essays are eye-opening and, ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Settled on four stars after some back-and-forth (I hate rating systems). I appreciate and am drawn to TTW's passion and her intent. She takes me straight into the landscape she loves, and which I, as a visitor, love as well. Her writing to me is uneven, a bit chunky, yet her devotion shines through and often elevates it. In particular, these essays spoke to me: "The Question Held by Owls", "Dwelling", Heart of the Matter: Erosion of Fear", "Will Bears Ears Become the Next Standing Rock?"...(and ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book worked on me like much-needed salve. I read this book at a time when I was feeling especially heartbroken about the Trump presidency's effect on the environment, and I can say that Williams' activism, her empathy for land and creatures, and her honest, clear-sighted look into the roots of our crisis will continue to stay with me for a long time to come.
Kent Winward
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maybe it was the Utah connection. Maybe it was the erosion metaphor. Whatever reasons these essays resonated with me.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is pain in beauty because we know it will end.

Unlike the world of humans, who trade on greed, scarcity, and selfishness, nature functions on frugality, abundance, and altruism.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This a wake up call and a reconnecting work with nature. Terry’s analysis is shared with honesty and deep analysis. He is able to impact the reader and understand how precious and fragile is the life. Sublime!

Julia Jenne
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful book. Terry Tempest Williams is kind of like a master grief bearer, if such a thing is possible. These essays reflect her willingness to look grief and pain and destruction in the eye, at a personal and collective level, and do better. As we move further into this era of environmental collapse we can all learn something from her example.
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020books
As always from TTW: insightful, timeless, deeply rooted in the heritage of our problematic and beloved West.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2019
"Wilderness becomes soul settling; a homecoming; a reminder of what we have forgotten -that where there is harmony there is wholeness."
Chad Guarino
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Erosion is a collection of essays by activist Terry Tempest Williams. As implied by the title, Williams focuses on the concept of erosion in politics, climate, public lands, and self. Focusing predominantly on the Trump administration's degradation of public lands in the American southwest for the use of fossil fuel special interests, Williams paints stark portraits of the plight of the Native People and the impact that ignoring climate change will have on future generations.

The majority of the
John Newton
As someone whose daily life can often feel out of touch with the natural world (at least on the grand scale of the West—I live in Brooklyn), I always appreciate Terry Tempest Williams's perspectives from the deserts of southern Utah. She has often served as a reminder to me to observe the weather, the call of birds, the lives of plants wherever I am.

That's true in this collection of essays too. The title accurately summarizes one of its major themes: It is about the erosion of a world in
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc-reviews
Thank you to NetGalley and Sarah Crichton Books for sending me a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Erosion: Essays of Undoing, is a collection of environmental essays written by the author between 2012 and 2019. I was first drawn to this book because of the concept, which sounded promising: the essays were to explore “the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear”. I was also looking forward to reading pro-environment work on current issues. Unfortunately, I
Lauren Mendez
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books-read
Erosion comes out on October 8th and I would highly recommend this work. Erosion is a powerful collection of essays. This book was raw, alive, and honest. A trigger warning for this work is a section focused on suicide. The essays highlight so many moral issues intertwined with protecting the Earth. Terry discusses her experience growing up Mormon and the significant changes to her spirituality focused on interconnections with the natural world. Terry discusses the loss of her brother to suicide ...more
Lindsey Jacobs
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read in three sittings. TTW, much like Rebecca Solnit, always perfectly articulates what I’ve been feeling with words I couldn’t find myself. I’ve been feeling increasingly despondent since the 2016 election, ever more cynical. Having just returned from a week in Big Bend National Park with the coyotes and the cacti, I’m feeling renewed and this book provided some guideposts for infusing some of that reverence and connectedness into the day to day. Like the desert, like the canyons, we erode, ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I would give a 3.5 if I could, but 3 stars feels more honest for me than rounding up to 4. I love Terry Tempest William's writing style. I read When Women Were Birds and Refuge and fell in love with both. I knew this collection of essays would be very factually dense, but I was hoping her more lyrical writing would have a larger role like it did in her previous works. I understand why it didn't, and why a more serious, straight-forward collection was necessary in today's political and ...more
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As always, she is my favorite. Her ability to capture my thoughts, but in a much more profound way. This book felt more vulnerable to me than others. More exposing of her personal ups and downs, including the loss of her brother and the struggle onany levels of her and her husbands purchase of oil and gas leases in Utah. There was deep exposure here. My favorite of the collection is A Beautiful, Rugged Place: Erosion of the Body. "Please write that addicts are good people sis", broke me. Read ...more
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Nature Literature: Erosion discussion 11 30 Nov 15, 2019 03:01AM  

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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 would like to hear the words "public lands" spoken in every election debate, with candidates holding both government and corporations accountable in their oversight and use. The fact of more than three hundred million visits to our national parks last year tells me I am not alone.” 0 likes
“Without manners, violence enters the room. Without the decency of imagination, narcissism leads.” 0 likes
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