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KLIATTThis is an unusual collection of essays by a Utah woman who casts an observant eye over the American Southwest. She includes her experiences of relationships and family, the happenings of everyday life, and the natural science and history of her area. Her background of scientific knowledge and philosophical thinking draws the reader into improbable experiences. Most significant is her love of the desert. Her writing fairly throbs with color and feeling as she tells of trips: Meloy takes a solo vindication trip to make up for all the times her family did not stop at motels with swimming pools when she was a child. She ponders ancient Indian-made mazes still visible among the disturbances wrought by "civilization." She fishes for barracuda with her husband in Mexico and gazes at the birds on a mangrove island. She forays with female friends. During a trip to the Bahamas, Meloy explores the roots of her family, and tries to make peace with the fact that her ancestors were slaveholders. Several essays are highly palatable reviews, for the nonscientist, of the flora and fauna of the desert. So what about the turquoise of the title? She sees shadings of this color wherever she looks; it resonates with her powerfully. In one essay, she covers the ways, past and present, in which the world views and uses the beautiful stone that exemplifies the color The titles of the essays say little of their content (e.g., "The Silk That Hurls Us Down Its Spine"), and the construction of the essays is bewildering at first. Meloy grabs hold of some event at the beginning of each (like accidentally nailing her hair to the shingles), then wanders off in what this reviewer sometimes perceived as a literaryexpression of chaos theory. Transitions would have been helpful to understanding. The cover says this book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and it does grow on the reader. One comes away, despite the randomness, feeling that one has had contact with a thoughtful, original mind. KLIATT Codes: A-Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2002, Random House, Vintage, 322p., Ages 17 to adult.
— Edna Boardman