April 28, 2011
Title: The anthropology of turquoise: reflections on desert, sea, stone, and sky
By: Ellen Meloy
Warning: when you discover that Ellen Meloy died suddenly in 2004, you may feel bereft. "I was just getting to know her; how could she disappear?"
The consolation is her books. Call them naturalist's memoirs or personalized landscapes or eco-history or (as she did) anthropology, they add up to a (too-short) lifetime of raptor-sharp observation. Although there's sufficient description of wilderness to place these books in the tradition of American nature writers, these are also portraits of Ellen Meloy, her places and times. There's poetry here, but no purple prose. Her spiritual connection to her slickrock is graceful, often lightly ironic. She acknowledges that her passions at times make her clumsy. She is funny. Her writing sticks to you and makes you think.
SCPL owns all but her first book, Raven's Exile. I started with The Anthropology of Turquoise because I'd found a paperback copy donated to the Friends of SCPL and it looked perfect for an airplane trip I was about to take.
What a flight, in every sense.