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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.

Edible and Useful Plants of the Southwest: Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, Rev. Ed.
By Delena Tull. University of Texas Press. 500 pp. Index. $29.95.
Delena Tull presents a cornucopia of wild plants that can be used for food, teas, medicines, dyes, and fabrics. She also discusses poisonous plants and tells which mushrooms are edible. From folk remedies to fun food to hobby cloth-making, there’s something here for everyone, whether they live in the city or live off the land. This revised Southwest classic is now bigger and better than ever, and includes many more plants from New Mexico and Arizona. It turns out that the plants in our yards, parks, or forests are more interesting that we may have imagined. It is a nicely designed book, and the drawings and color photos add to our enjoyment. []

Emerald Mile, The: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon
By Kevin Fedarko. Scribner. Index. $30.00.
Top Pick
Journalist and part-time river guide Kevin Fedarko has produced a work of jaw-dropping scope and page-turning action in this account of a speed record of rowing the length of the Grand Canyon that remains unmatched. In 1983, as a result of an unprecedented snow pack in the Rockies, the Colorado River flow was abnormally high and fast. Knowing this was the chance to set a new speed record for rowing the canyon, three long-time river guides flouted Park Service rules, and slipped their wooden dory, the Emerald Mile, into the river. Over exhaustive (but not dreary) background on the development, exploration, and history of the Grand Canyon; and the monumental human attempts to harness (and for some, to liberate) the energy of the river, Fedarko overlays and interweaves two compelling narratives: that of the river runners and that of the managers of the mammoth Glen Canyon Dam, which was in serious risk of overtopping and collapse. An unforgettable read, rendered in vivid, sometimes majestic, prose. []
Take a raging river in full flood, a crumbling dam, three scofflaw river runners trying to set a speed record through the Grand Canyon, and you have the makings of one of the best Colorado River books ever. This spellbinding true story leaps from the inner workings of Glen Canyon Dam and the psyches of river guides to boat-eating whirlpools and a wooden river dory named The Emerald Mile. Kevin Fedarko’s prodigious research and breathtaking narrative transcend the Southwest. It’s a roaring adventure with wave after wave of spills and thrills. Let’s hope Fedarko owns the movie rights. []

Ernest L. Blumenschein: The Life of an American Artist
By Carole B. Larson, Robert W. Larson. University of Oklahoma Press. 344 pp. Index. Bibliography = "Notes on Sources" Volume 28 in the Oklahoma Western Biographies. $29.95.
Ernest Blumenshein first laid eyes on the Taos Valley of New Mexico in the summer of 1898 and neither he nor the art world was ever quite the same again. In their concise and informative biography, Robert Larson and the late Carole Larson trace Blumenshein's artistic odyssey from his study in Paris and his career as an illustrator to his lasting contribution as a founding member of the influential Taos artists' colony (1910s-1950s). In doing so, they provide lay readers with an insightful portrait of a major 20th-century artist, while at the same time parsing for specialists the sometimes contradictory impulses that both inspired and circumscribed Blumenshein's artistic vision. []
One of the so-called pioneer artists of Taos, Blumenschein’s art and life have been chronicled in other books (notably in Peter Hassrick’s “In Contemporary Rhythm”). The Larsons have filled in details and provided a truly in-depth account with attention to his personal life as well as his art. []

Every Waking Moment
By Chris Fabry. Tyndale House Publishers. 400 pp. $14.99.

Everyday Las Vegas: Local Life in a Tourist Town
By Rex J. Rowley. University of Nevada Press. 251 pp. Index. $39.95.
Now a professor of geography in the Midwest, Rowley grew up in and around Las Vegas, Nevada, and still thinks of it as home. The “culture” of the city was the basis of his doctoral research and although this book may be, in some sense, a rewriting of his dissertation, it is not cluttered with academic paraphernalia. It ranges widely and sympathetically across the subjects that shed light on what the city is beyond the glitter of gambling and “the Strip.” []

Everyone Says That at the End of the World
By Owen Egerton. Soft Skull Press. 360 pp. $15.95.

Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club
By Benjamin Alire Saenz. Cinco Puntos Press. 222 pp. $16.95.
Top Pick
The eponymous bar of this Pen/Faulkner Award-winning collection of seven short stories is located a few blocks south of the Rio Grande. It is the nexus for the otherwise unconnected souls who drift back and forth across the border between El Paso and Juarez, searching for answers, longing for love, and sometimes just looking for trouble. Saenz’s stories, rendered elegantly and with compassion, tell of interior lives that are rich with complexities, restricted psychologically and emotionally by internal boundaries that bind and suffocate. Although we struggle as individuals, our need to break free of the borders that confine us is universal. These are stories to savor, both for their grace and for the truths they reveal. []
The Kentucky Club of this collection of Borderland short stories is a once-elegant Juárez bar, the Tiffany dome and gleaming wood and glass of which remind one character of a church. "[I]sn't that what bars are,” he muses, "churches for people who'd lost their faith?" That sense of loss, of emotional isolation, and of the yearning to connect are common to Sáenz's seven thoughtful, sculpted stories: an aging writer doesn’t know what he’s missing until he gains—and then loses—a lover; the grown children of wealthy, negligent parents seek emotional connection through risky behavior; a boy raised in Juárez is dumped unwanted on his American father’s doorstep and needs to negotiate his fractured world. At some point, they all pass through the Kentucky Club. And in his spare, luminous poet's voice, this one-time priest grants each a measure of redemption. []

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