Powell's anniversary list: 1971-2021
Activist, author, and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams is as vital as the wildernesses she so magnificently writes about (whether on a map or located within). For nearly four decades now, this advocate, defender, and all-around American treasure has been an unwavering voice for environmental and social justice, encouraging compassion for and (re)connection with the natural world. In Erosion: Essays of Undoing, Williams balances empathy and outrage, anger and forgiveness, beauty and loss, hope and despair, thinking and feeling, knowledge and action. Williams, like Whitman before her, entertains and embodies paradoxes personal and political. With deep joy and deep sorrow, Williams writes with (com)passion and vulnerability; she and her subjects are unshakably stalwart yet ultimately fragile. 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'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 from all that is breaking our hearts?"
We know the elements of erosion: wind, water, and time. They have shaped the spectacular physical landscape of our nation. Here, Williams bravely and brilliantly explores the many forms of erosion we face: of democracy, science, compassion, and trust. She examines the dire cultural and environmental implications of the gutting of Bear Ears National Monument--sacred lands to Native Peoples of the American Southwest; of the undermining of the Endangered Species Act; of the relentless press by the fossil fuel industry that has led to a panorama in which "oil rigs light up the horizon." And she testifies that the climate crisis is not an abstraction, offering as evidence the drought outside her door and, at times, within herself.
These essays are Williams's call to action, blazing a way forward through difficult and dispiriting times. We will find new territory —emotional, geographical, communal. The erosion of desert lands exposes the truth of change. What has been weathered, worn, and whittled away is as powerful as what remains. Our undoing is also our becoming.
Erosion is a book for this moment, political and spiritual at once, written by one of our greatest naturalists, essayists, and defenders of the environment. She reminds us that beauty is its own form of resistance, and that water can crack stone.
"Williams 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)
"In a collection of passionate, galvanizing essays, activist and teacher Williams shares her intimate connection to the as-yet untamed landscapes of the American West...Williams writes with a poetic optimism...Stirring." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"This anthology of grief, anger, and even hope capably reflects Williams' wise voice." Kirkus
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 and divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Castle Valley, Utah.