Dec 4, 2009

Terry Tempest Williams’ New Book Promises Depth, Feeling and Insight

posted by Kate Guthrie

One of my favorite authors, Terry Tempest Williams, has a new book in at Jennie’s. Finding Beauty in a Broken World examines the artistic and metaphoric beauty of mosaic, first in the “jeweled ceilings” of Italy, then in a clan of prairie dogs near extinction in the Southwestern U.S. and, finally, in the building of a memorial in war-torn Rwanda.

Williams first shook me up and made my eyes widen with the deeply moving, gorgeously written Refuge, in which she explores the experience of her mother’s death from breast cancer. Refuge also demonstrates the delicate, stark beauty of the desert where Williams lives, the dance of great birds in one Utah sanctuary and the Mormon faith, in which she was raised. Finally, the book tells the story of Williams’ fierce, passionate awakening as an environmental activist.

Besides being an award-winning author, Williams is a naturalist and environmental activist. To all her writing she brings a strong, physical connection to Earth and an informed academic eye. Her work teaches the reader about the fascinating intricacies of the planet without ever leaving us stuck in our heads—in Williams’ experience of stone, water, animals and the elements, we are always, also, of the world.

Like Refuge, Finding Beauty in a Broken World explores Williams’ process more than anything. How do we make something whole from that which has been broken, she asks, with her usual poetic, meditative, lyrical power. Sure to move, stir and awaken, I can’t wait to read this book.

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