A vast expanse of rock formations, sand dunes, and sagebrush in central and southwest Wyoming, the little-known Red Desert is one of the last undeveloped landscapes in the United States, as well as one of the most endangered. It is a last refuge for many species of wildlife. Sitting atop one of North America's largest untapped reservoirs of natural gas, the Red Desert is a magnet for energy producers who are damaging its complex and fragile ecosystem in a headlong race to open a new domestic source of energy and ...
A vast expanse of rock formations, sand dunes, and sagebrush in central and southwest Wyoming, the little-known Red Desert is one of the last undeveloped landscapes in the United States, as well as one of the most endangered. It is a last refuge for many species of wildlife. Sitting atop one of North America's largest untapped reservoirs of natural gas, the Red Desert is a magnet for energy producers who are damaging its complex and fragile ecosystem in a headlong race to open a new domestic source of energy and reap the profits. To capture and preserve what makes the Red Desert both valuable and scientifically and historically interesting, writer Annie Proulx and photographer Martin Stupich enlisted a team of scientists and scholars to join them in exploring the Red Desert through many disciplines-geology, hydrology, paleontology, ornithology, zoology, entomology, botany, climatology, anthropology, archaeology, sociology, and history. Their essays reveal many fascinating, often previously unknown facts about the Red Desert-everything from the rich pocket habitats that support an amazing diversity of life to engrossing stories of the transcontinental migrations that began in prehistory and continue today on I-80, which bisects the Red Desert. Complemented by Martin Stupich's photo-essay, which portrays both the beauty and the devastation that characterize the region today, Red Desert bears eloquent witness to a unique landscape in its final years as a wild place.
Annie Proulx lives near the Red Desert. Her novel The Shipping News won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1994. Proulx’s other works include Brokeback Mountain, Postcards, That Old Ace in the Hole, and Close Range, Wyoming Stories. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Martin Stupich has made a career of photographing industrial landscapes from the western United States to Vietnam, Japan, and China. His work is included in many permanent collections, including the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.
Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx did not set out to be a writer. She studied history in school, acquiring both her bachelor's and her master's degrees and abandoning her doctorate only in the face of a pessimistic job market. Something of a free spirit, she married and divorced three times and ended up raising three sons and a daughter single-handedly. She settled in rural Vermont, living in a succession of small towns where she worked as a freelance journalist and spent her free time in the great outdoors, hunting, fishing, and canoeing.
Although she wrote prolifically, most of Proulx's early work was nonfiction. She penned articles on weather, farming, and construction, and contracted for a series of rural "how tos" for magazines like Yankee and Organic Gardening. She also founded the Vershire Behind the Times, a monthly newspaper filled with colorful features and vignettes of small-town Vermont life. All this left little time for fiction, but she averaged a couple of stories a year, nearly all of which were accepted for publication.
Prominent credits in two editions of Best American Short Stories led to the publication in 1988 of Heart Songs and Other Stories, a first collection of Proulx's short fiction. Set in blue-collar New England, these "perfectly pitched stories of mysterious revenges and satisfactions" (the Guardian) received rapturous reviews.
With the encouragement of her publisher, Proulx released her first novel in 1992. The story of a fractured New England farm family, Postcards went on to win the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. She scored an even greater success the following year when her darkly comic Newfoundland set piece The Shipping News scooped both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. One year before her 60th birthday, Proulx had become an authentic literary celebrity.
Since then, the author has alternated between short and long fiction, garnering numerous accolades and honors along the way. Giving the lie to the literary adage "write what you know," her curiosity has led her into interesting, unfamiliar territory: Before writing The Shipping News, she made more than seven extended trips to Newfoundland, immersing herself in the culture and speech of its inhabitants; similarly, she weaved staggering amounts of musical arcana into her 1996 novel Accordion Crimes. She is known for her keen powers of observationpassed on, she says, from her mother, an artist and avid naturalistand for her painstaking research, a holdover from her student days.
In 1994, Proulx left Vermont for the wide open spaces of Wyominga move that inspired several memorable short stories, including the O. Henry Award winner "Brokeback Mountain." First published in The New Yorker and included in the 1999 collection Close Range: Wyoming Stories, this tale of a doomed love affair between two Wyoming cowboys captured the public imagination when it was turned into an Oscar-winning 2005 film by director Ang Lee.
Lionized by most critics, Proulx is, nevertheless, not without her detractors. Indeed, her terse prose, eccentric characters, startling descriptions, and stylistic idiosyncrasies (run-on sentences followed by sentence fragments) are not the literary purist's cup of tea. But few writers can match her brilliance at manipulating language, evoking place and landscape, or weaving together an utterly mesmerizing story with style and grace.
Good To Know
Proulx was the first woman to win the prestigious Pen/Faulkner Award.
Proulx fell in love with Newfoundland while she was conducting research for The Shipping News. She now spends part of each year in northern Newfoundland on a small cove adjacent to L'Anse aux Meadows..
Attended Colby College in the 1950s. B.A., University of Vermont, 1969; M.A., Sir George Williams University, 1973
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations Abbreviations I. Photographs Acknowledgments Photographs II. Text Acknowledgments Introduction Natural History
1. Geology of the Red Desert, by Charles Ferguson
2. Water in the Red, by Craig Thompson
3. Environmental Change in the Wyoming Basin's Red Desert, by Dudley Gardner
4. Titanotheres, Time, and People: A Snapshot of Red Desert Paleontology, by Tom Rea
5. Vertebrate Wildlife of the Red Desert, by Gary P. Beauvais
6. Birds of the Red Desert, by Andrea Orabona
7. Horses Come to the Red Desert, by Dudley Gardner
8. Insects of the Red Desert: An Exercise in Scientific Humility, by Jeffrey A. Lockwood
9. Sagebrush, by George P. Jones
10. Bright Green Hues Are Rare: Plant Diversity and Conservation in Wyoming's Red Desert, by Walter and Laura Fertig
11. Biological (Cryptobiotic) Soil Crusts of the Red Desert, by Jack States Human History
12. Early People of the Red Desert, by Dudley Gardner
13. The Shoshonis and Westward-Bound Emigrants, by Dudley Gardner
14. An Anthropological Impression of Rock Art in the Greater Red Desert, by Russel L. Tanner
15. Traversing the Desert, by Annie Proulx
16. Forts of the Red Desert, by Annie Proulx
17. Fort Bridger and Camps Stambaugh and Pilot Butte, by Dudley Gardner
18. Forts Halleck and Fred Steele, by Annie Proulx
19. The Union Pacific Railroad Arrives, by Annie Proulx
20. The Union Pacific, the Chinese, and the Japanese, by Dudley Gardner
21. Inhabitants of the Margins, by Annie Proulx
22. The Little Snake River Valley, by Annie Proulx
23. Red Desert Ranches, by Annie Proulx
24. Horse Bands of the Red Desert, by Annie Proulx
25. Opening the Oyster, by Annie Proulx
26. Red Desert Outlaws, by Annie Proulx
27. History of Conservation Efforts in the Red Desert, by Mac Blewer Contributors Index