Going Back to Bisbee

( 3 )

Overview

One of America's most distinguished poets now shares his fascination with a distinctive corner of our country. Richard Shelton first came to southeastern Arizona in the 1950s as a soldier stationed at Fort Huachuca. He soon fell in love with the region and upon his discharge found a job as a schoolteacher in nearby Bisbee. Now a university professor and respected poet living in Tucson, still in love with the Southwestern deserts, Shelton sets off for Bisbee on a not-uncommon day trip. Along the way, he reflects ...

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Overview

One of America's most distinguished poets now shares his fascination with a distinctive corner of our country. Richard Shelton first came to southeastern Arizona in the 1950s as a soldier stationed at Fort Huachuca. He soon fell in love with the region and upon his discharge found a job as a schoolteacher in nearby Bisbee. Now a university professor and respected poet living in Tucson, still in love with the Southwestern deserts, Shelton sets off for Bisbee on a not-uncommon day trip. Along the way, he reflects on the history of the area, on the beauty of the landscape, and on his own life. Couched within the narrative of his journey are passages revealing Shelton's deep familiarity with the region's natural and human history. Whether conveying the mystique of tarantulas or describing the mountain-studded topography, he brings a poet's eye to this seemingly desolate country. His observations on human habitation touch on Tombstone, "the town too tough to die," on ghost towns that perhaps weren't as tough, and on Bisbee itself, a once prosperous mining town now an outpost for the arts and a destination for tourists. What he finds there is both a broad view of his past and a glimpse of that city's possible future. Going Back to Bisbee explores a part of America with which many readers may not be familiar. A rich store of information embedded in splendid prose, it shows that there are more than miles on the road to Bisbee.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Poet Shelton has created a powerful annal of place--a paean to the Sonoran desert south of Tucson, a landscape as prickly as the cacti that grow in it and yet as refreshing as a rainy-season rainstorm. Shelton imbues landscapes, flora and fauna with resonance, imprinting themes of memory, history and human nature in the reader's mind. The opening description of a Sonoran monsoon is a masterful evocation of weather, vibrant and violent. Shelton's ( The Tattooed Desert ) tour of the desert includes descriptions of a six-foot snake that rescued him from the local squirrels who were infiltrating his house; his disastrous attempt to harvest a yucca as a native Christmas tree; an attack by raging bulls on the Mormon battalion in the U.S.-Mexican war; his abrupt discovery of an adobe ghost town; and the sociology of an old mining village. Shelton knows the lore and the life of Southern Arizona, and his diction, both precise and evocative, reflects his poetic skills. Indeed, the only fault here could easily have been repaired: the end of the book tends to repeat observations made earlier. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This book, winner of the 1992 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, offers the reader a glimpse into life and landscape in a mountainous mining region in extreme southeastern Arizona. Shelton, the author of several works of poetry ( The Bus to Veracruz , LJ 12/15/78. o.p.; The Tattooed Desert , LJ 2/15/71) became enraptured with the area as an army draftee and stayed to teach junior high English in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now living in Tucson, he recounts a recent nostalgic journey back to the area that incorporates natural history with a marvelous sense of place. This book should appeal to fans of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness ( LJ 1/1/68) and Charles Bowden's Desierto: Memories of the Future ( LJ 6/15/91). Recommended, especially for southwestern and natural history collections.-- Tim Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, Wash.
Booknews
Poet and professor (English, U. of Arizona) Shelton sets off for Bisbee on a day trip, along the way reflecting on the history of the area, on the beauty of the landscape, and on his own life. Learned, passionate, and poetic--winner of the 1992 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. Paper edition (unseen), $15.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816512898
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1992
  • Pages: 329
  • Sales rank: 435,692
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2009

    A superb momoire

    Shelton is an artist who takes us into his mind and soul and brings understanding and enlightenment to what we see of the southwest and the human spirit

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    What a trip

    Reading Mr. Shelton's book back to Bisbee was like sitting in the passenger seat of 'old Blue' his trusty van and listening to a master storyteller take you on a journey through time and place in a way that leaves a true appreciation for the desert southwest and the 'funky' little town of Bisbee - it certainly explains a lot about my first impressions of Bisbee - like the shops that tend to open 'when they want to' and close 'when they feel like it' - I loved this book and thank you very much for the journey Mr. Shelton!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2001

    A genuine delight!

    Richard Shelton is probably the best poet in the Southwest. His books on the Sonoran desert and the odd surrealistic quality of his verse have captured everyone who has lived there. His prose is less well-known, but this book is in the process of changing all that. Even though the book has been out for a few years, I just got around to reading it after reviewing Michael Hogan's 'Mexican Mornings' where he encapsulates Shelton's work in a loving essay. There is in Shelton's prose the delight and enthusiasm of a popular and gifted teacher as he takes us 'back to Bisbee, historically and literally, travelling through space and time in an old pickup,through the desert, up the Mule Mountains, and then down into this old Phelps-Dodge mining town which, next to San Miguel Allende, is probably the most charming village on the continent. Let's hope it stays that way and that, as Shelton's readers increase in the 21st century, Bisbee itself stays pristine in its 19th century time warp.

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