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Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land

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Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Trespass is the story of one woman's struggle to gain footing in inhospitable territory. A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utah's red-rock country after her father's suicide, only to find out just how much of an interloper she was among her own people.

But more than simply an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for a dying world, for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it. Fearing what her father's fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau — home not only to the world's most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large.

Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, while ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

Review:

"In this clouded memoir, Irvine, former development director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), pursues her tortuous trajectory from a loosely Mormon upbringing to strident environmental activism. Irvine writes from the fresh grief of her father's suicide: a fierce atheist with a Mormon pedigree, her father divorced her mother when Irvine was 10, drank heavily and gradually grew estranged from his family before shooting himself in the heart. With her mother and sister, Irvine grew up a 'Jack Mormon' (one whose belief in the Church of the Latter Day Saints has lapsed), endured a brief marriage with a yuppie vegetarian and found true love with a lawyer named Herb, with whom she moved to San Juan County, Utah. As Irvine, a grant-proposal writer, and Herb both worked for the SUWA, their advocacy for public lands pitted them in uncomfortable opposition to the pro-development, cattle-friendly interests of their largely Mormon neighbors. Irvine structures her memoir cannily around the four eras of local Native American prehistoric culture (Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker and Pueblo), each reflecting a period of migration and settlement in her own life. However, her work is filled with so much tertiary detail that emotional resonance is rare. Still, her views on wilderness preservation ring passionately and her research is sound." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Southern Utah's mesmerizing landscape of rock, river and ruins has inspired at least one masterpiece, Edward Abbey's 'Desert Solitaire,' which provides Amy Irvine with the epigraph for her fierce memoir, 'Trespass': 'Beware traveler. You are approaching the land of horned gods.'

'Beware' is the key word. Although there aren't many occupants of this beautiful but isolated area, most... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"As raw and stinging as a fresh burn....It's hard to imagine a personal history more transporting than this one, with its rigorously original prose (not a single cliché in 300-plus pages), emotional detail and bibliophilic departures into the musty caverns of American history." The Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[Irvine] braids together threads of Mormon history, her own family's stories and her quest for illumination, creating a singularly elegiac and astringent memoir of dissent." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Irvine's language is lovely, her stories compelling." Mother Jones online

Review:

"A glistening, hard-won [lesson] on resilience." More magazine online

Review:

"My kind of woman." Bookslut.com

Review:

"Forthright and imaginative, sensitive and tough, Irvine joins red-rock heroes Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams in breaking ranks and speaking up for the living world." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Trespass is the story of one woman's escape: from the Mormon Church, from her father's demons, from her own self-sabotage. Irvine's take on early Native Americans in the Southwest and hunter gathering as a way of life is extraordinary and original, as is the way she uses these thoughts to better understand her own place in the world. Trespass is also a tangled, fevered, ambivalent love story — the true kind." Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light and Things Seen and Unseen

Review:

"Trespass is a flare shot up amid troubling forces and asks us not to imagine a new West, but instead to re-envision ourselves as its inhabitants." Robert Redford

Review:

"Amy Irvine's Trespass is a harrowing and angry book, which ultimately wins us over by sheer, naked honesty. It is accurate to think of much of life in terms of damage control and Irvine eloquently presents her defense of the western landscape and the integrality of her own life." Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

Review:

"There is heartbreak and there is love. The land can do that. There are the canyons gouged between the people who share the land. And there is writing as warm and harsh as the ground that birthed it. Amy Irvine has written a brilliant book about a place beyond our reach but within our dreams." Charles Bowden, author of Blood Orchid

Review:

"Amy's writing is designed in the image of a landscape: desert writing, writing about bones and wind and stone. Some people try to write about this country, but their words are only dry and austere, as if that is all that is here. Amy's words truly dwell here. They deal as poetically with her father's suicide as they deal with facets of weather, with the myriad details of archaeology, geology, botany. This is not a natural history book in any common sense. It has the rhythm of arid writing: passing steadily from place to place, quick and then slow, here and then there. And it has the personal richness of a land where the rocks are made of blood." Craig Childs, author of Secret Knowledge of Water

Review:

"The most lingering, destructive myth to come out of the American West has been the notion that sense of place is somehow derived from fierce independence. Amy Irvine knows better. Her beautiful prose, infused with the staggering breadth and texture of the Southwestern landscape, reminds us that home is a hunger. It is the hope for a life re-imagined, for relationships that stretch across centuries, full of tangle and sweat and heartbreaking possibility." Gary Ferguson, author of Hawks Rest: A Season in the Remote Heart of Yellowstone and The Great Divide: A Biography of the American West

Review:

"Trespass is a book full of transgressions because Amy Irvine has dared to examine the nature of orthodoxy, be it religion, environmentalism, or marriage. What saves this book from simply becoming an indulgence is her fidelity and love for all things beautiful and broken, especially the redrock desert of southern Utah. If erosion is the face of a changing landscape, Amy Irving has written erosional prose. This is a transformative memoir that dances between shadow and light." Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place and Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

Synopsis:

"Trespass might as well be Desert Solitaire's literary heir . . . It's hard to imagine a personal history more transporting that this one."—Judith Lewis, Los Angels Times Book Review
 
Trespass is the story of one womans struggle to gain footing in inhospitable territory. A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utahs red-rock country after her fathers suicide, only to find out just how much of an interloper she was among her own people. But more than simply an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for a dying world, for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it. Fearing what her fathers fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau—home not only to the worlds most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large. Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, while ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

 

Synopsis:

Trespass is the story of one womans struggle to gain footing in inhospitable territory. A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utahs red-rock country after her fathers suicide, only to find out just how much of an interloper she was among her own people. But more than simply an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for a dying world, for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it. Fearing what her fathers fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau—home not only to the worlds most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large. Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, while ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

 

Formerly a nationally ranked competitive rock climber, Amy Irvine was for five years the Development Director at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
Winner of the Orion Book Award
 
A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utahs red-rock country after her fathers suicide, only to find that she was more of an interloper among her own people than she believed. But more than an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it.

Fearing what her fathers fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau—home not only to the worlds most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large. Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

Trespass is the story of one woman's escape: from the Mormon Church, from her father's demons, from her own self-sabotage. Irvines take on early Native Americans in the Southwest and hunter gathering as a way of life is extraordinary and original, as is the way she uses these thoughts to better understand her own place in the world. Trespass is also a tangled, fevered, ambivalent love story—the true kind.”—Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light and Things Seen and Unseen
“As raw and stinging as a fresh burn . . . Its hard to imagine a personal history more transporting than this one, with its rigorously original prose (not a single cliché in 300-plus pages), emotional detail and bibliophilic departures into the musty caverns of American history.”—Los Angeles Times

“[Irvine] braids together threads of Mormon history, her own familys stories and her quest for illumination, creating a singularly elegiac and astringent memoir of dissent.”—Chicago Tribune

"Southern Utah's mesmerizing landscape of rock, river and ruins has inspired at least one masterpiece, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, which provides Amy Irvine with the epigraph for her fierce memoir, Trespass: 'Beware traveler. You are approaching the land of horned gods.' 'Beware' is the key word. Although there aren't many occupants of this beautiful but isolated area, most of them consider Abbey's pro-environment, anti-cattle ideas extreme. Irvine, who had worked for a key Southern Utah environmental advocacy group, seemingly understood what she was in for when she moved from Salt Lake City to Monticello, a small town in the heart of the region, to recover from her father's suicide and to be closer to her 'lion man,' an environmental attorney. She thought she might encounter hostility, but believed that her Mormon background, lapsed though she was, and the hunting skills she learned from her father would provide her with cover. Her friends were rightly skeptical. How much do the locals hate environmental advocates? A popular window decal shows the cartoon character Calvin 'urinating on the acronym of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance,' Irvine's employer. Irvine's attempt to fit in, as well as to enjoy and protect the beauty of canyon country, is the most vivid ground-level report from this war zone that I have ever read . . . What lifts Trespass beyond polemic and personal suffering is its structure. The book is divided into sections named for the periods of early habitation of the Southwest: Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker, Pueblo. The narrative skips back and forth from the author's own history to those of the Mormon pioneers and the earliest natives. This gives Irvine the chance to compare coyotes, despised as predators by ranchers, to the polygamist Mormons of the 19th century, who were 'truly coyotelike in their survival skills' and who claimed virtually the same habitat. She argues that early hunter-gatherers damaged the fragile land less than did the later agricultural Anasazi (the architects of wondrous places such as Mesa Verde), whom she describes as descending into decadent, over-populous cults and cannibalism. Similarly, Irvine suggests, contemporary culture is trying the patience of Mother Nature. During the recent drought, Lake Powell, the artificial reservoir that drowned the majestic Glen Canyon and then became a boating haven for families like hers, has receded so much that it shows a permanent 'bathtub ring' at its former high-water mark. Locals who swim in it become ill from the sewage. In the end, the author and the 'lion man,' now her husband, chose to retreat. They moved to a more hospitable small town in Colorado, where, in a bar, a cowboy bought them drinks even after learning they were professional environmentalists. Irvine found her sense of self to be more sustainable 'so near to the promised land and still so free of its grasp.'"—Grace Lichtenstein, The Washington Post Book World

“Amy Irvine is a new voice. Nine years went into writing Trespass, her first book. In that time she has learned her craft and honed it to a fine edge. Precious few books published today are written as well . . . It dawns on me that the best way to know if you want to read Trespass is to pull a copy off the shelf at your local bookstore and read the brief prologue. I am betting most of you will keep reading. A year or so ago I mentioned to a friend and mentor that I was reading and rereading the books of two women working in nonfiction: Ellen Meloy and Terry Tempest Williams. Their writing, I said, struck a different, sometimes more compelling, chord than the writing of men crossing my path at the time. 'Have you thought about why that is so?" she asked. I didn't know, didn't pursue the answer, until Trespass was in my hands and I had added Amy Irvine to the list of Meloy and Tempest Williams. What distinguishes Meloy, Tempest Williams, and Irvine from Thoreau and his sons is a powerful feminine awareness . . . They are not Thoreau or Abbey, but they write human truths beyond the grasp of the men in the family. Father, sons, and daughters—all individually different, they yet occupy the same landscape in literature. Memoir, history, prehistory, natural history: Seemingly disparate, the Trespass narrative is all of a piece, each facet necessary to the story. Much in the book hinges on prehistory, and its sections are named for the area's prehistoric cultures: Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker, and Pueblo. It is also a personal exploration of present-day human culture in southeastern Utah and contains a capsule Mormon history. It is, most of all, the story of the author's journey and struggle to find and understand her place in the world."—The Bloomsbury Review

"Amy Irvine moved to Monticello, Utah, from Salt Lake City shortly after the suicide of her father. As a former Mormon and a grant writer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, she didn't fit in with her neighbors in the conservative southeastern Utah town. Her newly published book, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, is a memoir of her time spent in that part of canyon country, her struggles to forge a relationship and have a child with her partner Herb, and her attempts to come to terms with her needs as a human living in the desert . . . Throughout the book, her prose is always clear and thoughtful, even as multiple storylines involving ancestral Puebloans, original Mormons, and the author's modern-day life crisscross and sometimes tangle together. The book brings together all the conflicting emotions one might have while living in a desert, trying to forge and maintain a love, deal with illness, and recover from a loved one's death. It's an exploration of the elements of humanity told with a close eye to history and nature."—Stephanie Paige Ogburn, Cortez Journal

“This is a memoir about, among many things, finding a place of belonging and home. Irvine is a sixth-generation Utahan. After thirty-four years of living in Salt Lake City, and the suicide of her father, she moved to Monticello, in Utah's San Juan County . . . This book offers a clear accounting of a woman going through a tough transition. In holding herself accountable for her action, especially the bad and fracturing ones, Irvine writes with stinging integrity . . . Trespass is broadly woven from threads more abundant than a single review can cover. Irvine shows a depth of research regarding the earlier inhabitants of the Colorado Plateau, beginning with the hunter-gatherers, then onward to today's Paiute, Navajo, and Ute. Likewise, she covers LDS history, the changing status of its women, and its on-going battles against federal mandates regarding the environment. She even invites Paul Shepard for frequent visits. This wasn't the book I expected. It grabbed hold of me more strongly, and affected me more deeply, than I was prepared for. So deep and wide is Irvine's writing, that I couldn't do the reading if it justice without re-reading it several times. I can no more let it be than it has let me be.”—Eduardo Rey Brummel, Colorado Central Magazine

Trespass is the story of one woman's escape: from the Mormon Church, from her father's demons, from her own self-sabotage. Irvines take on early Native Americans in the Southwest and hunter gathering as a way of life is extraordinary and original, as is the way she uses these thoughts to better understand her own place in the world. Trespass is also a tangled, fevered, ambivalent love story—the true kind.”—Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light and Things Seen and Unseen

"Trespass is a flare shot up amid troubling forces and asks us not to imagine a new West, but instead to re-envision ourselves as its inhabitants."—Robert Redford

"Trespass is a book full of transgressions because Amy Irvine has dared to examine the nature of orthodoxy, be it religion, environmentalism, or marriage. What saves this book from simply becoming an indulgence is her fidelity and love for all things beautiful and broken, especially the redrock desert of southern Utah. If erosion is the face of a changing landscape, Amy Irvine has written erosional prose. This is a transformative memoir that dances between shadow and light.”—Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place and Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

“The most lingering, destructive myth to come out of the American West has been the notion that sense of place is somehow derived from fierce independence. Amy Irvine knows better. Her beautiful prose, infused with the staggering breadth and texture of the Southwestern landscape, reminds us that home is a hunger. It is the hope for a life re-imagined, for relationships that stretch across centuries, full of tangle and sweat and heartbreaking possibility.”—Gary Ferguson, author of Hawks Rest: A Season in the Remote Heart of Yellowstone and The Great Divide: A Biography of the American West

“Amy's writing is designed in the image of a landscape: desert writing, writing about bones and wind and stone. Some people try to write about this country, but their words are only dry and austere, as if that is all that is here. Amy's words truly dwell here. They deal as poetically with her father's suicide as they deal with facets of weather, with the myriad details of archaeology, geology, botany. This is not a natural history book in any common sense. It has the rhythm of arid writing: passing steadily from place to place, quick and then slow, here and then there. And it has the personal richness of a land where the rocks are made of blood.”—Craig Childs, author of Secret Knowledge of Water

“Amy Irvines Trespass is a harrowing and angry book, which ultimately wins us over by sheer, naked honesty. It is accurate to think of much of life in terms of damage control and Irvine eloquently presents her defense of the western landscape and the integrality of her own life.”—Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

“There is heartbreak and there is love. The land can do that. There are the canyons gouged between the people who share the land. And there is writing as warm and harsh as the ground that birthed it. Amy Irvine has written a brilliant book about a place beyond our reach but within our dreams.”—Charles Bowden, author of Blood Orchid

“Forthright and imaginative, sensitive and tough, Irvine joins red-rock heroes Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams in breaking ranks and speaking up for the living world.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Nestled amid the descriptions of the stark, red-rock desert of the Colorado Plateau, speculation about ancient inhabitants, and reflection on Mormon migration west is Irvines own story, which she unfolds gradually while moving seamlessly between past and present . . . beautifully written.”—Library Journal

"Irvine, former development director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), pursues her tortuous trajectory from a loosely Mormon upbringing to strident environmental activism. Irvine writes from the fresh grief of her father's suicide: a fierce atheist with a Mormon pedigree, her father divorced her mother when Irvine was 10, drank heavily and gradually grew estranged from his family before shooting himself in the heart. With her mother and sister, Irvine grew up a Jack Mormon (one whose belief in the Church of the Latter Day Saints has lapsed), endured a brief marriage with a yuppie vegetarian and found true love with a lawyer named Herb, with whom she moved to San Juan County, Utah. As Irvine, a grant-proposal writer, and Herb both worked for the SUWA, their advocacy for public lands pitted them in uncomfortable opposition to the pro-development, cattle-friendly interests of their largely Mormon neighbors. Irvine structures her memoir cannily around the four eras of local Native American prehistoric culture (Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker and Pueblo), each reflecting a period of migration and settlement in her own life . . . her views on wilderness preservation ring passionately and her research is sound."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Formerly a nationally ranked competitive rock climber, Amy Irvine was for five years the Development Director at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780865477032
Subtitle:
Living at the Edge of the Promised Land
Publisher:
North Point Press
Author:
Amy
Author:
Irvine, Amy
Author:
Irvine
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Subject:
Nature
Subject:
Wilderness areas
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
BIO026000
Subject:
Utah Description and travel.
Subject:
Nature -- Religious aspects.
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Christianity - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (
Subject:
Environmental Conservation
Subject:
Protection
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20090331
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 2 Maps, Notes, and a Selected B
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 x 1.25 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » Utah
History and Social Science » Americana » Western States
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Reference

Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land
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Product details 384 pages North Point Press - English 9780865477032 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this clouded memoir, Irvine, former development director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), pursues her tortuous trajectory from a loosely Mormon upbringing to strident environmental activism. Irvine writes from the fresh grief of her father's suicide: a fierce atheist with a Mormon pedigree, her father divorced her mother when Irvine was 10, drank heavily and gradually grew estranged from his family before shooting himself in the heart. With her mother and sister, Irvine grew up a 'Jack Mormon' (one whose belief in the Church of the Latter Day Saints has lapsed), endured a brief marriage with a yuppie vegetarian and found true love with a lawyer named Herb, with whom she moved to San Juan County, Utah. As Irvine, a grant-proposal writer, and Herb both worked for the SUWA, their advocacy for public lands pitted them in uncomfortable opposition to the pro-development, cattle-friendly interests of their largely Mormon neighbors. Irvine structures her memoir cannily around the four eras of local Native American prehistoric culture (Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker and Pueblo), each reflecting a period of migration and settlement in her own life. However, her work is filled with so much tertiary detail that emotional resonance is rare. Still, her views on wilderness preservation ring passionately and her research is sound." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "As raw and stinging as a fresh burn....It's hard to imagine a personal history more transporting than this one, with its rigorously original prose (not a single cliché in 300-plus pages), emotional detail and bibliophilic departures into the musty caverns of American history."
"Review" by , "[Irvine] braids together threads of Mormon history, her own family's stories and her quest for illumination, creating a singularly elegiac and astringent memoir of dissent."
"Review" by , "Irvine's language is lovely, her stories compelling." Mother Jones online
"Review" by , "A glistening, hard-won [lesson] on resilience." More magazine online
"Review" by , "My kind of woman."
"Review" by , "Forthright and imaginative, sensitive and tough, Irvine joins red-rock heroes Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams in breaking ranks and speaking up for the living world." (starred review)
"Review" by , "Trespass is the story of one woman's escape: from the Mormon Church, from her father's demons, from her own self-sabotage. Irvine's take on early Native Americans in the Southwest and hunter gathering as a way of life is extraordinary and original, as is the way she uses these thoughts to better understand her own place in the world. Trespass is also a tangled, fevered, ambivalent love story — the true kind."
"Review" by , "Trespass is a flare shot up amid troubling forces and asks us not to imagine a new West, but instead to re-envision ourselves as its inhabitants."
"Review" by , "Amy Irvine's Trespass is a harrowing and angry book, which ultimately wins us over by sheer, naked honesty. It is accurate to think of much of life in terms of damage control and Irvine eloquently presents her defense of the western landscape and the integrality of her own life."
"Review" by , "There is heartbreak and there is love. The land can do that. There are the canyons gouged between the people who share the land. And there is writing as warm and harsh as the ground that birthed it. Amy Irvine has written a brilliant book about a place beyond our reach but within our dreams."
"Review" by , "Amy's writing is designed in the image of a landscape: desert writing, writing about bones and wind and stone. Some people try to write about this country, but their words are only dry and austere, as if that is all that is here. Amy's words truly dwell here. They deal as poetically with her father's suicide as they deal with facets of weather, with the myriad details of archaeology, geology, botany. This is not a natural history book in any common sense. It has the rhythm of arid writing: passing steadily from place to place, quick and then slow, here and then there. And it has the personal richness of a land where the rocks are made of blood."
"Review" by , "The most lingering, destructive myth to come out of the American West has been the notion that sense of place is somehow derived from fierce independence. Amy Irvine knows better. Her beautiful prose, infused with the staggering breadth and texture of the Southwestern landscape, reminds us that home is a hunger. It is the hope for a life re-imagined, for relationships that stretch across centuries, full of tangle and sweat and heartbreaking possibility." Gary Ferguson, author of Hawks Rest: A Season in the Remote Heart of Yellowstone and The Great Divide: A Biography of the American West
"Review" by , "Trespass is a book full of transgressions because Amy Irvine has dared to examine the nature of orthodoxy, be it religion, environmentalism, or marriage. What saves this book from simply becoming an indulgence is her fidelity and love for all things beautiful and broken, especially the redrock desert of southern Utah. If erosion is the face of a changing landscape, Amy Irving has written erosional prose. This is a transformative memoir that dances between shadow and light." Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place and Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert
"Synopsis" by ,
"Trespass might as well be Desert Solitaire's literary heir . . . It's hard to imagine a personal history more transporting that this one."—Judith Lewis, Los Angels Times Book Review
 
Trespass is the story of one womans struggle to gain footing in inhospitable territory. A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utahs red-rock country after her fathers suicide, only to find out just how much of an interloper she was among her own people. But more than simply an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for a dying world, for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it. Fearing what her fathers fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau—home not only to the worlds most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large. Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, while ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

 

"Synopsis" by ,
Trespass is the story of one womans struggle to gain footing in inhospitable territory. A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utahs red-rock country after her fathers suicide, only to find out just how much of an interloper she was among her own people. But more than simply an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for a dying world, for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it. Fearing what her fathers fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau—home not only to the worlds most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large. Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, while ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

 

Formerly a nationally ranked competitive rock climber, Amy Irvine was for five years the Development Director at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
Winner of the Orion Book Award
 
A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utahs red-rock country after her fathers suicide, only to find that she was more of an interloper among her own people than she believed. But more than an exploration of personal loss, Trespass is an elegy for the ruin of one of our most beloved and unique desert landscapes and for our vanishing connection to it.

Fearing what her fathers fate might somehow portend for her, Irvine retreated into the remote recesses of the Colorado Plateau—home not only to the worlds most renowned national parks but also to a rugged brand of cowboy Mormonism that stands in defiant contrast to the world at large. Her story is one of ruin and restoration, of learning to live among people who fear the wilderness the way they fear the devil and how that fear fuels an antagonism toward environmental concerns that pervades the region. At the same time, Irvine mourns her own loss of wildness and disconnection from spirituality, ultimately discovering that the provinces of nature and faith are not as distinct as she once might have believed.

Trespass is the story of one woman's escape: from the Mormon Church, from her father's demons, from her own self-sabotage. Irvines take on early Native Americans in the Southwest and hunter gathering as a way of life is extraordinary and original, as is the way she uses these thoughts to better understand her own place in the world. Trespass is also a tangled, fevered, ambivalent love story—the true kind.”—Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light and Things Seen and Unseen
“As raw and stinging as a fresh burn . . . Its hard to imagine a personal history more transporting than this one, with its rigorously original prose (not a single cliché in 300-plus pages), emotional detail and bibliophilic departures into the musty caverns of American history.”—Los Angeles Times

“[Irvine] braids together threads of Mormon history, her own familys stories and her quest for illumination, creating a singularly elegiac and astringent memoir of dissent.”—Chicago Tribune

"Southern Utah's mesmerizing landscape of rock, river and ruins has inspired at least one masterpiece, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, which provides Amy Irvine with the epigraph for her fierce memoir, Trespass: 'Beware traveler. You are approaching the land of horned gods.' 'Beware' is the key word. Although there aren't many occupants of this beautiful but isolated area, most of them consider Abbey's pro-environment, anti-cattle ideas extreme. Irvine, who had worked for a key Southern Utah environmental advocacy group, seemingly understood what she was in for when she moved from Salt Lake City to Monticello, a small town in the heart of the region, to recover from her father's suicide and to be closer to her 'lion man,' an environmental attorney. She thought she might encounter hostility, but believed that her Mormon background, lapsed though she was, and the hunting skills she learned from her father would provide her with cover. Her friends were rightly skeptical. How much do the locals hate environmental advocates? A popular window decal shows the cartoon character Calvin 'urinating on the acronym of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance,' Irvine's employer. Irvine's attempt to fit in, as well as to enjoy and protect the beauty of canyon country, is the most vivid ground-level report from this war zone that I have ever read . . . What lifts Trespass beyond polemic and personal suffering is its structure. The book is divided into sections named for the periods of early habitation of the Southwest: Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker, Pueblo. The narrative skips back and forth from the author's own history to those of the Mormon pioneers and the earliest natives. This gives Irvine the chance to compare coyotes, despised as predators by ranchers, to the polygamist Mormons of the 19th century, who were 'truly coyotelike in their survival skills' and who claimed virtually the same habitat. She argues that early hunter-gatherers damaged the fragile land less than did the later agricultural Anasazi (the architects of wondrous places such as Mesa Verde), whom she describes as descending into decadent, over-populous cults and cannibalism. Similarly, Irvine suggests, contemporary culture is trying the patience of Mother Nature. During the recent drought, Lake Powell, the artificial reservoir that drowned the majestic Glen Canyon and then became a boating haven for families like hers, has receded so much that it shows a permanent 'bathtub ring' at its former high-water mark. Locals who swim in it become ill from the sewage. In the end, the author and the 'lion man,' now her husband, chose to retreat. They moved to a more hospitable small town in Colorado, where, in a bar, a cowboy bought them drinks even after learning they were professional environmentalists. Irvine found her sense of self to be more sustainable 'so near to the promised land and still so free of its grasp.'"—Grace Lichtenstein, The Washington Post Book World

“Amy Irvine is a new voice. Nine years went into writing Trespass, her first book. In that time she has learned her craft and honed it to a fine edge. Precious few books published today are written as well . . . It dawns on me that the best way to know if you want to read Trespass is to pull a copy off the shelf at your local bookstore and read the brief prologue. I am betting most of you will keep reading. A year or so ago I mentioned to a friend and mentor that I was reading and rereading the books of two women working in nonfiction: Ellen Meloy and Terry Tempest Williams. Their writing, I said, struck a different, sometimes more compelling, chord than the writing of men crossing my path at the time. 'Have you thought about why that is so?" she asked. I didn't know, didn't pursue the answer, until Trespass was in my hands and I had added Amy Irvine to the list of Meloy and Tempest Williams. What distinguishes Meloy, Tempest Williams, and Irvine from Thoreau and his sons is a powerful feminine awareness . . . They are not Thoreau or Abbey, but they write human truths beyond the grasp of the men in the family. Father, sons, and daughters—all individually different, they yet occupy the same landscape in literature. Memoir, history, prehistory, natural history: Seemingly disparate, the Trespass narrative is all of a piece, each facet necessary to the story. Much in the book hinges on prehistory, and its sections are named for the area's prehistoric cultures: Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker, and Pueblo. It is also a personal exploration of present-day human culture in southeastern Utah and contains a capsule Mormon history. It is, most of all, the story of the author's journey and struggle to find and understand her place in the world."—The Bloomsbury Review

"Amy Irvine moved to Monticello, Utah, from Salt Lake City shortly after the suicide of her father. As a former Mormon and a grant writer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, she didn't fit in with her neighbors in the conservative southeastern Utah town. Her newly published book, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, is a memoir of her time spent in that part of canyon country, her struggles to forge a relationship and have a child with her partner Herb, and her attempts to come to terms with her needs as a human living in the desert . . . Throughout the book, her prose is always clear and thoughtful, even as multiple storylines involving ancestral Puebloans, original Mormons, and the author's modern-day life crisscross and sometimes tangle together. The book brings together all the conflicting emotions one might have while living in a desert, trying to forge and maintain a love, deal with illness, and recover from a loved one's death. It's an exploration of the elements of humanity told with a close eye to history and nature."—Stephanie Paige Ogburn, Cortez Journal

“This is a memoir about, among many things, finding a place of belonging and home. Irvine is a sixth-generation Utahan. After thirty-four years of living in Salt Lake City, and the suicide of her father, she moved to Monticello, in Utah's San Juan County . . . This book offers a clear accounting of a woman going through a tough transition. In holding herself accountable for her action, especially the bad and fracturing ones, Irvine writes with stinging integrity . . . Trespass is broadly woven from threads more abundant than a single review can cover. Irvine shows a depth of research regarding the earlier inhabitants of the Colorado Plateau, beginning with the hunter-gatherers, then onward to today's Paiute, Navajo, and Ute. Likewise, she covers LDS history, the changing status of its women, and its on-going battles against federal mandates regarding the environment. She even invites Paul Shepard for frequent visits. This wasn't the book I expected. It grabbed hold of me more strongly, and affected me more deeply, than I was prepared for. So deep and wide is Irvine's writing, that I couldn't do the reading if it justice without re-reading it several times. I can no more let it be than it has let me be.”—Eduardo Rey Brummel, Colorado Central Magazine

Trespass is the story of one woman's escape: from the Mormon Church, from her father's demons, from her own self-sabotage. Irvines take on early Native Americans in the Southwest and hunter gathering as a way of life is extraordinary and original, as is the way she uses these thoughts to better understand her own place in the world. Trespass is also a tangled, fevered, ambivalent love story—the true kind.”—Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light and Things Seen and Unseen

"Trespass is a flare shot up amid troubling forces and asks us not to imagine a new West, but instead to re-envision ourselves as its inhabitants."—Robert Redford

"Trespass is a book full of transgressions because Amy Irvine has dared to examine the nature of orthodoxy, be it religion, environmentalism, or marriage. What saves this book from simply becoming an indulgence is her fidelity and love for all things beautiful and broken, especially the redrock desert of southern Utah. If erosion is the face of a changing landscape, Amy Irvine has written erosional prose. This is a transformative memoir that dances between shadow and light.”—Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place and Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

“The most lingering, destructive myth to come out of the American West has been the notion that sense of place is somehow derived from fierce independence. Amy Irvine knows better. Her beautiful prose, infused with the staggering breadth and texture of the Southwestern landscape, reminds us that home is a hunger. It is the hope for a life re-imagined, for relationships that stretch across centuries, full of tangle and sweat and heartbreaking possibility.”—Gary Ferguson, author of Hawks Rest: A Season in the Remote Heart of Yellowstone and The Great Divide: A Biography of the American West

“Amy's writing is designed in the image of a landscape: desert writing, writing about bones and wind and stone. Some people try to write about this country, but their words are only dry and austere, as if that is all that is here. Amy's words truly dwell here. They deal as poetically with her father's suicide as they deal with facets of weather, with the myriad details of archaeology, geology, botany. This is not a natural history book in any common sense. It has the rhythm of arid writing: passing steadily from place to place, quick and then slow, here and then there. And it has the personal richness of a land where the rocks are made of blood.”—Craig Childs, author of Secret Knowledge of Water

“Amy Irvines Trespass is a harrowing and angry book, which ultimately wins us over by sheer, naked honesty. It is accurate to think of much of life in terms of damage control and Irvine eloquently presents her defense of the western landscape and the integrality of her own life.”—Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

“There is heartbreak and there is love. The land can do that. There are the canyons gouged between the people who share the land. And there is writing as warm and harsh as the ground that birthed it. Amy Irvine has written a brilliant book about a place beyond our reach but within our dreams.”—Charles Bowden, author of Blood Orchid

“Forthright and imaginative, sensitive and tough, Irvine joins red-rock heroes Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams in breaking ranks and speaking up for the living world.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Nestled amid the descriptions of the stark, red-rock desert of the Colorado Plateau, speculation about ancient inhabitants, and reflection on Mormon migration west is Irvines own story, which she unfolds gradually while moving seamlessly between past and present . . . beautifully written.”—Library Journal

"Irvine, former development director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), pursues her tortuous trajectory from a loosely Mormon upbringing to strident environmental activism. Irvine writes from the fresh grief of her father's suicide: a fierce atheist with a Mormon pedigree, her father divorced her mother when Irvine was 10, drank heavily and gradually grew estranged from his family before shooting himself in the heart. With her mother and sister, Irvine grew up a Jack Mormon (one whose belief in the Church of the Latter Day Saints has lapsed), endured a brief marriage with a yuppie vegetarian and found true love with a lawyer named Herb, with whom she moved to San Juan County, Utah. As Irvine, a grant-proposal writer, and Herb both worked for the SUWA, their advocacy for public lands pitted them in uncomfortable opposition to the pro-development, cattle-friendly interests of their largely Mormon neighbors. Irvine structures her memoir cannily around the four eras of local Native American prehistoric culture (Lithic, Archaic, Basketmaker and Pueblo), each reflecting a period of migration and settlement in her own life . . . her views on wilderness preservation ring passionately and her research is sound."—Publishers Weekly

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