Activist, nature writer, and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams
is also an American treasure. In Erosion:
Essays of Undoing, Williams balances empathy and outrage, anger and
forgiveness, beauty and loss, hope and despair. Williams is a magnificent
writer and Erosion is simultaneously
a salvo and salve for our disquieting Anthropocenic age. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Fierce, timely, and unsettling essays from an important and beloved writer and conservationist
Terry Tempest Williams is one of our most impassioned defenders of public lands. A naturalist, fervent activist, and stirring writer, she has spoken to us and for us in books like The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. In these new essays, Williams explores the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear. She wrangles with the paradox of desert lands and the truth of erosion: What is weathered, worn, and whittled away through wind, water, and time is as powerful as what remains. Our undoing is also our becoming.
She looks at the current state of American politics: the dire social and environmental implications of recent choices to gut Bears Ears National Monument, sacred lands to Native People of the American Southwest, and undermine the Endangered Species Act. She testifies that climate change is not an abstraction, citing the drought outside her door and at times, within herself. Images of extraction and contamination haunt her: "oil rigs lighting up the horizon; trucks hauling nuclear waste on dirt roads now crisscrossing the desert like an exposed nervous system." But beautiful moments of relief and refuge, solace and spirituality come — in her conversations with Navajo elders, art, and, always, in the land itself. She asks, urgently: "Is Earth not enough? Can the desert be a prayer?"
"A riot of quirkiness and eccentricity, and the mood of the book, which shifts from droll humor to melancholy to gentle vulnerability, is unclassifiable — and just right." Kirkus
"Luminous, fearless, brutally honest. But with this latest book, Williams takes her spiritual love of the American West — along with her grief, anger and exasperation at what we continue to do to this place — to a new level. If John Muir ever wrote like this, most of the West would be in wilderness protection by now."
Timothy Egan, author of The Immortal Irishman
"Terry Tempest Williams's voice in the clamor is like a hot desert wind blowing away the litter in a crowded room and leaving behind only what has weight, what is essential. These are essays about the courage to face what is most brutal and monstrous, by finding what is most beautiful and merciful."
Rebecca Solnit, author of Call Them by Their True Names
"This anthology of grief, anger, and even hope capably reflects Williams' wise voice."
"An apostle of life and earth and a soul-revving teller of true stories, Williams (The Hour of Land, 2016) brings lyricism, candor, mystery, and factual exactitude to the deeply affecting essays collected here . . . Williams' exquisite testimony of wonder and wisdom is vitalizing and crucial." Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
Terry Tempest Williams is the award-winning author of The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks; Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; Finding Beauty in a Broken World; and When Women Were Birds, among other books. Her work is widely taught and anthologized around the world. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is currently the Writer-in-Residence at the Harvard Divinity School. She and her husband Brooke Williams divide their time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Castle Valley, Utah.