Southwest Books of the Year
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Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.
- I Choose Life: Contemporary Medical and Religious Practices in the Navajo World
- By Maureen Trudelle Schwarz. University of Oklahoma Press. 380 pp. Index. $24.95.
- Navajo patients balance traditional healing with modern cures. A must read for first nation doctors and nurses.
- If I Die in Juarez
- By Stella Pope Duarte. University of Arizona Press. 328 pp. . $16.95.
- Someone asked me why I liked this book. I don’t. I hate it, just as I hate that it had to be written, and I hate what is happening to our border communities and citizens. I hate wasted lives, disintegrating society, absolute corruption, loss of freedom and basic safety. And I hate that I feel powerless to stop it. But the world must know what is happening here. And this book drives the reality home.
In a deft tale about the deprived meeting the depraved, Duarte draws three Mexican girls to the festering border city, Cuidad Juárez, where in real life, and death, hundreds of young women have been viciously tortured and then murdered. Evita, age 14, dreams of peace and draws butterflies with out-sized wings so it can fly away. Beautiful Petra, 19, rapidly advances in her job at the maquiladora but deals with the devil. And Mayela, 12, a precocious painter is compared to Frieda Kahlo. They are spun into the vortex of desperation and human predators that are as true as tomorrow’s newspaper headline. With the help of family and friends, they find courage and hope. It may be the most important book you read this year. Your family may be next. News at ten. Nightly.
See the photos in Charles Bowden’s Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future or his Exodus if Duarte’s sensitive, understated prose isn’t graphic enough for you.
- Nearly 15 years after local rights workers began documenting the Juarez deaths, over 500 young women have been brutally murdered, the killings continue and few of the crimes have been solved. Organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that crimes against women are on the rise in much of the world, but Mexico is one of the worst cases anywhere. After years of investigation, Southwest author Stella Pope Duarte concluded that she could best express the full reality of the story in a fictional format. Her poignant eulogy to the brutalized women and their devastated families is so sad on so many levels that it is difficult to read. It vividly reflects, in the very human struggles of the families, the horrific effects of poverty, lack of education and opportunity. It is a war zone in Juarez and Duarte has stunningly realized in her novel a place and a people trying to survive amidst the greed, avarice and predation of a failed state and two failed governments. [ ]
- Images: Jack Dykinga's Grand Canyon
- By Charles Bowden, Jack W. Dykinga, Wayne Ranney. Arizona Highways. 110 pp. Index. $39.95.
- Wow! I just returned from a hike in the Grand Canyon and here I am gazing at a book about the place as caught on film by master photographer Jack Dykinga. Each page evokes an old memory and a new perspective. Among my many favorite photographs are the subtleties of Mather Point in sun and snow (pages 38-39), the sweeping grandeur of Point Sublime (pages 62-63), the vertigo of Cape Royal (pages 68-69), and the stout but balanced rock (page 95). Excellent essays by prose-poet Charles Bowden and geologist Wayne Ranney provide words after Dykinga's photos have left us speechless. [ ]
- In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein
- By , Elizabeth J. Cunningham, Peter H. Hassrick. University of Oklahoma Press. 399 pp. Index. $34.95.
- Much more than just a retrospective, the beautiful color (mostly) reproductions here become a complement to five chapters providing us with a clear view of how Blumenschein's art developed during a productive career that exceeded six decades. He came early to the Southwest and by accident to Taos and is noted as one of the founders of what has been dubbed the Taos school [officially the Taos Society of Artists]. He was recognized by his middle years for his innovative use of color and his ability to convey a true “sense of place” without sublimating his art to photographic detail. This book is art and biography beautifully blended. [ ]
- Incredible Grand Canyon, The: Cliffhangers and Curiosities From America's Greatest Canyon
- By Scott Thybony. Grand Canyon Association. 127 pp. Index. . $14.95.
- Thybony is a fine writer and this book proves once again that he is a fine researcher as well. [ ]
- Colorful Canyon lore and tales of the trail from a long-time Grand Canyon explorer and nationally-known travel and adventure writer.
- Indian Country: Sacred Ground, Native Peoples
- By John Annerino. Countryman Press. 127 pp. . $29.95.
- With the help of many Native Americans, award-winning photographer John Annerino goes on a spiritual journey into Indian Country and returns with a new appreciation of their culture, as well as beautiful photographs of some of the Southwest’s most mysterious and legendary places.
- Inherited Sins
- By Paula G. Paul. University of New Mexico Press. 245 pp. $18.95.
- Her mother dying in a hospital a young woman "discovers" a diary, actually two diaries, which partly explain her past and the "secret" life of her mother and the local preacher! The angst-ridden dialog reads well, but there are some missing pieces in the explanations. [ ]
- Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents
- By Jim Malusa. Sierra Club Books. 321 pp. $16.95.
- This immensely enjoyable chronicle captures the spirit of exploration: go someplace new and have fun learning about it. The author bicycles to the lowest points of ground on six continents, including Death Valley, with minimal equipment and fanfare. He keenly observes the countryside and delights us with tales of the local citizens and customs along the way, all told with a child-like curiosity and off-beat humor that bring us back for more. Although the title plays off John Krakauer’s masterpiece Into Thin Air, Malusa’s anti-expedition ranks with the best of travelogues. [ ]