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Reviews 361 environmental concerns and conflicts that are still very much at issue in Wyo­ ming and other parts of the American West. ROBERT A. RORIPAUGH University of Wyoming The GoodRain. By Timothy Egan. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990. 254 pages, $19.95.) Newwords sign the literary landscape of the 1990s, words like “ecotourism” and “ecocriticism” and “ecoprose.” Of books that follow all three, Timothy Egan’s The GoodRain is the best example I have read. Subtitled “Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest,”Egan’sprose pursues a trail through Washington and Oregon that first was followed by Theodore Winthrop more than a century earlier. Like Ivan Doig, in his Winter Brothers' tracking ofJames Swan, Eganjuxtaposes contemporary issues, impres­ sions, and comments against the descriptions of a nineteenth-century observer, in this case a Yankee visitor who wrote The Canoe and The Saddle about what he had seen on an 1853 trip north of the Columbia River. Unlike Doig, however, Egan’sfocus is on the land itself. Each chapter in The GoodRain takes the reader to some special Pacific Northwest terrain (“ecotourism”), compares Winthrop’s description of it with an investigatory twentieth-century reality (“ecocriticism”), and does all this quite elegantly (“ecoprose”). Indeed, I might describe The Good Rain as a rather literary High Country News. Certainly Egan composes his polished diction and syntax from a very activist point of view. He is neither shy about assessing the ills he sees nor reticent about articulating his vision. “We edge up to a vast canyon,”he writes in a chapter called “Salmon,” where the earth cracks in layers. I feel as ifI’m watching a slow-motion earthquake. Streams of mud and clay and gravel slide down from all sides of the canyon, funneled into Deer Creek. The debris backs up, fillswith water during storms such as today’sdownpour, then explodes, scooping out every steelhead and salmon spawning nest in its path. . .. I’ve never seen anything like this—a cancerous canyon five hundred feet across, two thousand feet long and eight hundred feet deep. More than a million cubic yards of debris have slid into the river. Five years ago, this was a gentle forest slope. Then, the Georgia Pacific Timber Company clearcut most of the trees in the watershed. Now, the land will not hold water. The logging company says it’s nature’s fault, not theirs. I could say a great deal more about The Good Rain, but I think Egan’s words 362 WesternAmerican Literature speak for themselves. If his book isn’t successful “ecotourism,” “ecocriticism,” “ecoprose,” I don’t know what is. ANN RONALD University ofNevada, Reno The Desert Reader. Edited by Peter Wild. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press,1991. 236 pages, $17.95.) Peter Wild in his introduction to The Desert Reader claims his purpose is twofold: “.. . to introduce the reader to some of the best writing about the arid lands of the United States and to give an overview of how the thinking about deserts has changed over the years.” He successfully accomplishes his task by chronologically arranging nineteen chapters, choosing eighteen authors (John Wesley Powell was used twice). Following the Papago and Pima Indian lore are authors Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Pattie, Greeley, Gilpin, Dutton, Van Dyke, Austin, Lawrence, Dobie, Leopold, Krutch, Stegner, Abbey, Zwinger, and Banham. Preceding each selection is Wild’s commentary drawing insights from prior selections, placing authors in their time, reconstructing biographical relevancies, and weaving the variations of the common themes of myth and reality. Wild’s historical perspective and commentary make this a book the reader initially may consume for pleasure but ultimately find soul searching. What shall we do with the desert? The excerpts reflect the routes of myth makers, beaver trappers, explorers, geopoliticians, bureaucrats, professors, art critics, naturalists, philosophic scientists, scientific philosophers, National Park Service and Forest Service rangers, and novelists. The authors describe their adventures, examine their theories, capture the panorama, enjoy the desert for the sake ofthe desert, and finally discover themselves in desert solitude. Wallace Stegner presents the “wilderness idea”where the idea itselfis the resource. Not the gold. Not the uranium. Not the unrealized potential offuture development. As...


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pp. 361-362
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