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Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West

Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West

by Robert Leonard Reid


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A Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

Yes, every inch of the globe has been seen, mapped, photographed, and measured, but is it known? Robert Leonard Reid doesn’t think so. To draw a circle and calculate its diameter is not to know the circle. In this collection, Reid distinguishes himself from many science-based nature writers, using the natural world as a springboard for speculations and musings on the numinous and the sacred, injustice, homelessness, the treatment of Native Peoples in the United States, and what pushes mountaineers to climb. Ranging in their settings from eastern New Mexico to northern Alaska, Reid’s essays illustrate his belief that the American West is worth celebrating and caring for.

Taking its title from an affecting speech given by renowned author Barry Lopez, Because It Is So Beautiful is a response to desperate questions surrounding America’s wildlands. Lopez’s words resonated with the young mountaineer-musician-mathematician Robert Leonard Reid, who was struggling to understand his relationship to the world, to find his vision as a writer. What he learned on that long-ago evening is knit throughout the nineteen pieces in the collection, which include essays from Reid’s previous books Arctic Circle, Mountains of the Great Blue Dream, and America, New Mexico; three essays that appear here in print for the first time; as well as revised and expanded versions of essays that appeared in Touchstone, The Progressive, and elsewhere.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781619029293
Publisher: Catapult
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Author of Mountains of the Great Blue Dream, Arctic Circle: Birth and Rebirth in the Land of the Caribou, and America, New Mexico, Robert Leonard Reid has received grants from the Sierra Arts Foundation and the Nevada Arts Council. He has worked as a songwriter, a cabaret pianist, and a mathematics textbook writer. He lives in Carson City, Nevada, with his wife, Carol Dimmick Reid. They have a son, Jake.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

To Live One's Life 3

West, to the Future 9

From America, New Mexico

Rebuilding the Clouds 13

Journeys Through Space and Time 33

A Shelter in the Sky 65

The Condor's Last Flight 109

Ling-Ling Has Killed Another Baby 122

A Poem, Gathering in My Mind 125

Intruders on a Lifeless Ridge 143

From Arctic Circle (Six Excerpts)

I To Feel the Earth Turn 161

II Honeymoon Blues 189

III Very Close to Everywhere 198

IV Travels with Lucky 203

V The Porcupine in Winter 209

VI A Vow Fulfilled 216

The Fire and the Rose 226

From Mountains of the Great Blue Dream

Decrescendo 235

Pilgrimage to Tsoodzil 264

Landscape of the Settled Heart 290

Acknowledgments 306

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