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Land Arts of the American West
By Bill Gilbert, Chris Taylor. University of Texas Press. 422 pp. Index. $60.00.
Here is a rather unusual book coming out of the College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico in collaboration with the University of Texas, Austin. The field program operating between 2003 and 2006, involved some 14 students working in various areas in the southwest. Art could be wherever the found it such as the form of an old building, drawings in the sand, creations involving dried brush, garbage, petroglyphs, pueblo ruins -- the choice is endless. Each site was labeled with elevation, ecological niche, ownershi8p, and location and each was acco9mpanied by a written history and impression by one or more of the students. There is definitely an ecological focus as each work should not harm the environment. []
Mix the mythic Old West, add the New West, and then take dozens of creative college artists on field trips to explore and interpret the West in a wide range of images and media. The students – painters, sculptors, photographers, and mixed-media specialists --roam through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and Chihuahua. They tackle the concepts of place, mapping, space and artifacts as “zones of inquiry” and then create interactive, multi-sensory art at famous sites such as the Spiral Jetty and the Grand Canyon. In an unusual mix of reports, photos, snippets, near-poetic essays, and interviews, the results are at times surreal, quirky, insightful, funny, somber, and puzzling, but above fresh. The pictures are moments, and the experience of a place changes by the moment (page 150). Put another way, art is where you find it and what you literally make of it. This refreshing book may widen your imagination, or at least your field of view. []

Land of Black Volcanoes and White Sands: The Pinacate and Gran Desierto De Altar Biosphere Reserve
By Clark Blake, Larry G. Marshall. Environmental Education Exchange. .
Sonora’s Pinacate Biosphere Reserve is one of the wonders of the natural world. Vast lava flows, many craters including several magnificent maars, moving sand dunes, fascinating cactus, and a long archaeological history make it a “must-see” for desert rats. It has long deserved it own guidebook on a par with those available for US national parks. This is it. With full-color photos and crisp text, readers can appreciate the lure of the Pinacate. We hope to see a Spanish-language edition soon. []
This is one of the least hospitable places in North America, a land devastated by the molten fury of volcanoes, blanketed by vast spreading dunes, blasted by wind blown sand, and scorched by a fiery sun through a sky in which clouds are rare, transient visitors that do not tarry. This is real desert, bone-dry and desolate, where life itself is generally fleeing or fleeting. Its otherworldly nature has been attested by the Apollo 14 astronauts, who trained there for the moon, and by other astronauts in orbit as one of the most prominent land features of the region as seen from space. This well-illustrated book is a nice introduction to the area, now a 2760 square mile U.N. Biosphere Reserve.

Readers who would like to explore this subject further might also be interested in these:
* Sunshot : Peril and Wonder in the Gran Desierto, by Bill Broyles (a recent Southwest Book of the Year);
* The Sierra Pinacate, by Julian D. Hayden;
* Desert Heart: Chronicles of the Sonoran Desert, by William K. Hartmann.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster: a Novel
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Cinco Puntos Press. 239 pp. $16.95.
Top Pick
Zach believes that God must have written, "sad" on his heart at birth. Sadness, nurtured by alcholic, clinically-depressed parents and a psychotic, abusive brother, is all he's known. At age 18, Zach is bright, sensitive, and and addicted. When tragedy strikes and Zach finds himself in rehab with a case of amnesia, it's a torturous climb back to memory, acknowlegement, and life. Benjamin Lire Saenz has written a deeply moving, poetic story of a damanged young man, so worth saving, and the people around him who support the effort. []

A troubled teen tries to work through family tragedy.
Last Reader, The
By David Toscana, Asa Zatz. Texas Tech University Press. 192 pp. $26.95.
Top Pick
Avoiding the now passe designation “magical realism” Toscana refers to his work as realismo desquiciado, which translates roughly as “unrestrained realism” but which means literally “unhinged realism”. In a very small northern Mexican village no rain has fallen in such a long time that all the wells are dry; all save one and in it the owner, Remigio, discovers one morning the body of a young girl. He thinks he will be blamed. Desperate, he turns to his father, Lucio, for advice. Lucio is the village librarian, a job for which he is no longer paid as there are no readers left in the village except himself. Filled with references to both classical and contemporary literature, Toscana’s spins out a tale that is simultaneously real and unhinged; a veritable tour de force. []

Last Refuge of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel, The: Ecology of Endangerment
By John L. Koprowski, H. Reed Sanderson. University of Arizona Press. 427 pp. Index. $85.00.
The upper slopes of the Pinaleno Mountains in southeastern Arizona are home to an endangered species of squirrel that has been the topic of much debate and study. Here is the latest research by an all-star cast, and it is informative and important. The book is divided into six parts: the mountain, management of squirrels, population trends, squirrel habitat, squirrel ecology and behavior, and the risks the squirrels face. An array of charts, maps, and photos help readers grasp the enormity of the problem. The squirrel is one species in the limelight, but its fate will foreshadow the future of our mountains, their wildlife, and us. []

Law Into Their Own Hands, The
By Roxanne Lynn Doty. University of Arizona Press. 176 pp. $50 hardcover, $19.95 paper.
I would agree that border security and illegal immigration along the Arizona-Mexico border has been one of the hot topics under discussion in the past few years. Author, Doty, has interviewed and discussed border vigilante groups that consist of an interesting assortment of individuals from the anti-immigrant movement, white/supremacists/nativist groups, and the Christian Right. she notes that publicity was the key to the success of the various movements and details the coveraqe they have received on television, radio, talk radio, the Internet, and published books. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's efforts in rounding up undocumented aliens is discussed along with how it has affected Hispanic citizens in Arizona. This is an important contribution to the literature in the field. []

Laws of Harmony, The
By Judith Ryan Hendricks. Harpercollins. 478 pp. $14.95.
When she learns of her husband’s death, burned beyond recognition in an auto accident, Sunny (real name Soleil) Cooper is thrust into a search through her past. She grew up in a northern New Mexico commune, Armonia, but her search leads from her home in Albuquerque to yet another Harmony, a town on San Miguel Island off the coast of Southern California. Hendricks writes smoothly creating a page-turner with lots of well-drawn characters. []

Liars Anonymous
By Louise Ure. Minotaur Books. 275 pp. $25.95.
Ure takes her place in the front rank of mystery writers with this intricately plotted story of truth, lies, guilt, and absolution set in Tucson. While investigating a murder she overhears while working as a telephone operator for an automobile navigation service, Jessie Dancing uncovers a child-kidnapping ring and, at the same time, confronts the deceits lurking in her own past. In Dancing, Ure has created one of the genre's memorable flawed and conflicted heroines. []

Life on the Rocks: One Woman's Adventures in Petroglyph Preservation
By Katherine Wells. University of New Mexico Press. 211 pp. $21.95.
Sometimes you sit down with a book and one page leads to the next until you’ve spent the whole afternoon listening to a gentle story well told. In this one a lady leaves California, moves to northern New Mexico, and helps save the new neighborhood. Along the way she discovers a chunk of land with Native American petroglyphs, builds a house, finds love, and wraps herself in the local community and its fascinating history. She even reforms the villain to some extent. Fun, touching, inspiring. []

Lipan Apaches, The: People of Wind and Lightning
By Thomas A. Britten. University of New Mexico Press. 336 pp. Index. $34.95.
Here is a thoroughly researched history of a Texas tribe long considered a threat to the development of New Spain's northern frontier. They faced enormous pressures and ultimately forced removal caused them to join the Mescalero and Kiowa Apache, thus fading from history. The book is minutely researched with a fine bibliography. It is however, not for the casual reader. Students and scholars of Native history will no doubt welcome its addition to their libraries. []

Literary El Paso
By Marcia Daudistel. TCU Press. 572 pp. Index. $29.50.
If you think El Paso, TX, is just chile peppers, cowboy boots and border-crossers, this fine fat book will remind you of some terrific writers who call, or have called, it home. Names like Tom Lea, Carl Hertzog, C. L. Sonnichsen, Leon Metz, Dagoberto Gilb, Denise Chavez, and Elroy Bode are represented by about 120 short pieces.


Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide
By Lawrence C. Jones, Robert E. Lovich. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 567 pp. Index. $24.95.
Top Pick
This book calls for a technical reviewers term: Wow! Pulling together photos, data, etc. from 77 experts (let’s call them lizardologists), Jones and Lovich provide detailed coverage of the 96 species so far identified within the six southwestern states, plus Texas west of the Pecos River. Color coded distribution maps show that many species range far outside these boundaries, especially into Baja and other northern Mexican states. For each species there are sections of text with headings for description, similar species, habitats, natural history, range, viewing tips and other information. Certain to be a standard guide for many, many years to come.
There’s something endearing about lizards. Maybe it’s that we can watch them fairly close-up, or that they seem preposterously agile climbing walls and jumping for insects. Whatever it is, we love’em, and so do the 77 enthusiastic experts who wrote Lizards of the Southwest. It is a grand guidebook, complete with excellent photos of the 96 native species found west of the Pecos, detailed information on each one, and insight into their ecological niches. Special features include-easy-to-use checklists and a thumbnail pictorial guide to families and genera. The book is authoritative (think handbook of the latest scientific names and research), but it also will be quite readable and helpful for a wide general audience including curious youth. It will be a standard reference for years to come, but moreover it is an impressive appreciation for our sunny weather friends. []

Lone Star Wildflowers: a Guide to Texas Flowering Plants
By Willa F. Finley, LaShara J. Nieland. Texas Tech University Press. 321 pp. Index. $29.95.
This flower guide covers the wide state of Texas, not just the Southwest, and it does so with flair. In addition to organizing flowers by color and providing excellent color photos, it adds “bonus” pictures to the ends of each section and the text occasionally provides some unusual information on plant biology and uses. Even if you’re a veteran reader of plant guides, you’ll find something new or refreshing in this one. It’s well worth buying. The only “oops” I noticed was confusing the preservative qualities of petroleum creosote with the medicinal qualities of the plant creosote. []

Lost Boy
By Brent W. Jeffs, Maia Szalavitz. Broadway Books. 241 pp. $24.95.

A memoir of a nephew of the leader of a modern Mormon polygamous sect telling his experiences growing up in that community.
Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of the Southwest
By David Hatcher Childress. Adventures Unlimited Press. 576 pp. $19.95.

Man travels and collects tales.
Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Arizona
By W. C. Jameson. University of New Mexico Press. 200 pp. $23.95.
Jameson offers a potpourri of thirty-one treasure tales covering the length and breadth of the Grand Canyon State. Regardless of whether you accept the author's claim that all are true, his retelling of the stories behind the legends provide entertaining reading. Avid treasure hunters will certainly be disappointed in the quality of the accompanying maps - but therein lies the mystery, and the fun. []
Said to be the best-selling treasure author in the world, author of some sixty books, and one who believes Billy the Kid lived to his eighties, Jameson has created another tome of legends of lost mines. He admits that many of his "facts" come from oral histories and handed down legends. These, he says, he has tried to authenticate. No sources are listed and there is no index. As one might expect, it is well-written and will be enjoyed by a general reader looking for adventure and not citations. []

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