Okay, The Hour of Land is rocketing to the top of my “books of the year,” list. I’m not entirely sure what year this book was written, but seeing as I just found it…it’s going on my 2018 short list. I’ve read Terry Tempest Williams before, and will again because she writes beautifully. What I love most about her work is the personal connection and her dialogue. She interviews really well, and brings those interviews, formal and informal, to life through smooth, well edited, concise structure.
The Hour of Land is about our national parks and William’s journey through these parks. Not all of them mind you, just a few, but that’s all she needs. My personal favorite, Big Bend.
Now, there are TWO other things you should know. Williams worked with Frish Brandt at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco to acquire images for the chapter heads. The images are from Avedon, Friedlander, etc. It adds to the book and makes you wonder why more people don’t do this.
The SECOND surprise was starting a new chapter and reading “….my dear friend Lawrence Fodor in Santa Fe,” and then to have the email chain between Williams and Fodor printed out for our enjoyment. I wish EVERYONE could read these emails. They are so beautiful you realize you are doing with two people who are beyond shallow livers…they are connectors. For those of you wondering why the name Larry Fodor sounds familiar….well, I’ve interviewed him here. And I’ve also mentioned him here and here. I love seeing people and things connect via the chance encounters of people who explore.
Now, here is the tough part. The message of this book. The West is going away. Development, in great part due to energy companies, is threatening these rare places that are more fragile than we imagine. We all hear about these horror stories but most feel helpless to do anything, which is just the way the energy companies want it. People like Ryan Zinke who seemingly operate above the law based on arrogance, corruption and an apathetic public still believing we can achieve energy independence by drilling every available foot of open land. Williams comes from a family of “pipe” men, including her father who was responsible for natural gas lines all over The West, so not like she isn’t having to fight for her opinions, even within her family.(I’m in the same boat.) It adds an interesting twist to this story.
Get this book, read it and pass it along.