The last cheater's waltz : beauty and violence in the desert Southwest /
Ellen Meloy.
1st ed.
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.
225 p. ; 22 cm.
080504065X (alk. paper)
More Details
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.
080504065X (alk. paper)
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1999-02-15:
Ever since World War II, when plutonium was manufactured in Hanford, WA, and the atomic bomb was designed and tested in New Mexico, the U.S. government has placed a number of nuclear facilities in the American West. How the development of atomic power affected this region is the subject of these two very different books. The Atomic West is a collection of papers presented at a symposium sponsored by the Center for the Pacific Northwest at the University of Washington. The well-documented articles examine both the promise and the problems of the Manhattan Project. Offering the perspective of someone who lives in the region, award-winning nature writer Meloy (Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River, LJ 6/15/94) visited the Trinity Site, Los Alamos, and the sites of uranium mining. She describes the landscape and the effects of radiation on the area's plants and animals. Both books fill niches in history of science collections. Meloy's offers insight for the nonspecialist and is recommended to public libraries, especially regional collections. The Atomic West is for larger academic libraries.‘Dale Ebersole Jr., Univ. of Toledo Lib., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-01-25:
The latest offering by the author of Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River, winner of a Spur Award, is an eloquent account of the travels she embarked on throughout the 200 square miles surrounding her remote southeastern Utah home on the Colorado Plateau. While an implicit environmentalist argument informs the book, Meloy's tone is more elegiac than polemical, her stance more subjective than political. She felt driven to explore what she calls "a map of the known universe" because of a persistent feeling of alienation from the breathtaking scenery surrounding her. Her explorations took her to Los Alamos and to the Trinity National Historic Landmark in New Mexico, site of the first A-bomb test, where Meloy contrasts the stark beauty of the area with the test's cost to vegetation and animal life. She also meditates on the irony that current wildlife recovery programs are managed by the military at White Sands Missile Range. Meloy's sadness and anger over human predations on the landscape are heartfelt and moving. Musing on the technological and chemical penetration of the desert, she writes: "With consequences we likely underestimate, nature will take these intrusions into its own silent chemistry." (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review Quotes
"Funny, joyous, great-hearted--a brilliant storyteller." (William Kittredge) "Exuberant, smart, irreverent." (Terry Tempest Williams)
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, January 1999
Kirkus Reviews, January 1999
Publishers Weekly, January 1999
Library Journal, February 1999
Los Angeles Times, March 1999
New York Times Book Review, April 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
From the recipient of the 1997 Whiting Award. Feeling disconnected from the wildly beautiful desert that she has known intimately for twenty years, award-winning writer Ellen Meloy embarks on a search for home that is historical, scientific, and spiritual. Her "Map of the Known Universe," devised to guide her quest, reveals extraordinary details of a physical link between the atomic age and her home on Utah's San Juan River. The Map grows to include Los Alamos, the Trinity A-test site, White Sands Missile Range, and primary sources of uranium. Meloy casts her naturalist's eye on the Southwest's "geography of consequence," where she finds unusual local bestiaries, the bodies of long-buried neighbors, an underground bubble of nuclear physics in a national forest, and the rich textures of nature on her own eight acres of land. The story is multilayered and far-reaching, yet always infused with Meloy's prodigious research, finely tuned prose, and wry humor.
Main Description
""In this abundant space and isolation, the energy lords extract their bounty of natural resources, and the curators of mass destruction once mined their egregious weapons and reckless acts. It is a land of absolutes, of passion and indifference, lush textures and inscrutable tensions. Here violence can push beauty to the edge of a razor blade. . . ."" Thus Ellen Meloy describes a corner of desert hard by the San Juan River in southeastern Utah, a place long forsaken as implausible and impassable, of little use or value--a place that she calls home. Despite twenty years of carefully nurtured intimacy with this red-rock landscape, Meloy finds herself, one sunbaked morning, staring down at a dead lizard floating in her coffee and feeling suddenly unmoored. What follows is a quest that is both physical and spiritual, a search for home.
Main Description
An award-winning writer embarks on a search for home that is historical, scientific, and spiritual as she reveals the physical link between the atomic age and her property on Utah's San Juan River.
Table of Contents
Prologuep. 1
Tse Valley I: Alien Pebblesp. 9
The Terrain of Strategic Deathp. 23
Tse Valley II: Fossil Riverp. 87
Learning to Find Homep. 97
Spitting Photons Through Vacuums of Folded Spacep. 147
The Last Cheater's Waltzp. 183
Epiloguep. 219
Acknowledgmentsp. 227
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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