Southwest Book Reviews

My dad was once given a peculiar assignment. He was working for the VCA the Vanadium Corporation of America in Durango, Colorado. The VCA had been mining and milling uranium in Colorado, Utah, and throughout the Navajo Nation since the late 30s. In 1962, they shut down the Durango mill and transferred my father to the reservation. They were leaving a huge pile of tailings nestled against Smelter Mountain right by the Animas River. For years, Durangoans had complained about the fine pink and many thought radioactive sand that blew over the town.

Percival's Planet

Oct 19, 2010

Some writers have the gift of channeling living breathing people in their fictional characters. Charles Dickens and J. D. Salinger did. So does Sherman Alexie.

Arnold Spirit is the star of Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Arnold is a charismatic underdog. Born with water on the brain, he lisps; he stutters. Cute in a little kid, but in junior high, it qualifies you for membership in the Black-Eye-of- the-Month Club. Arnold says, "Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day."

Day out of Days

Aug 13, 2010

A man's walking along, sees a head in a ditch. The head has a Medusa hairdo black-matted snaky locks. It is, of course, a talking head. A quarrelsome, weepy, head, and the man's a curmudgeon. The head needs a lift, and the man reluctantly picks it up. It gets heavy as he goes along. Weighs a ton.

For her July Southwest Book Review Ann Cummins recommends a romantic summer novel set at the Grand Canyon. In her fifth book, Flagstaff novelist, river-runner, and hiking guide Margaret Erhart, teases her readers about the sweet silliness of human affairs in the face of nature's magnitude.

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