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Reviews 391 terrain and text of the associated issues and topics which Alcock addresses. Among those terrains and texts are the Chiricahua Mountains and the Apaches who once called these rugged mountains home, the San Simon valley and its intertwined human and natural histories, and the area near Klondyke and a trigger happy (cougars) and trap happy (black bears) public lands rancher. Notwithstanding its prosaic title, The Masked BobwhiteRides Again is darned good reading in the tradition ofJ. W. Krutch’s best desert books—with one major exception. Unlike Krutch, Alcock is a naturalist, and it is this quality which sets this book apart from much desert writing. Yet the book is far from clinical. Alcock puts his cactus hugger’s heart as well as his scientist’s soul into his writing, and ultimately it is this mix of perspectives, this intrapersonal dialectic, which imparts a textural and textual richness to his book, a book anyone with an interest in or love for the arid lands of the Southwest should read. BILL D. TOTH WesternNew Mexico University A Match to theHeart. By Gretel Ehrlich. (New York: Pantheon, 1994. 201 pages, $21.00.) Fierce storms are a healthy reminder that—even in late twentieth-century industrial civilization—humans remain essentiallyvulnerable to the inscrutable and often devastating forces of nonhuman nature. A Match to theHeartis Gretel Ehrlich’s remarkable account of her own experience being struck by lightning. Not many people are so directly touched by the heavens: fewwho are live to tell of it, and fewer still are capable of doing so with Ehrlich’sliterary sensitivity and grace. From an initial description of her near-death experience, Ehrlich moves into a detailed account of the various physical, emotional, and philosophical problems that arise in the long aftermath of the incident. She researches our current scientific understanding of lightning, often providing lucid explana­ tions of atmospheric electricity and its effects upon the human organism. By devoting much of the book to her injury-induced feelings of helplessness, frustration, and incapacity, Ehrlich produces a compelling narrative map ofher personaljourney toward renewed strength and hope. The book also maintains a speculative and wide-ranging approach to lightning, exploring the phenom­ enon from the various perspectives of science, mythology, religion, metaphys­ ics, and personal history. Readers who think of Gretel Ehrlich primarily as a nature writer may be somewhat disappointed with A Match totheHeart. Unlike her classic 1985 effort, The Solace of Open Spaces, the new book lacks a consistent and fully developed articulation of place. Whereas Solace (and, to a lesser extent, her 1991 book 392 WesternAmerican Literature Islands, the Universe, Home) immersed us in the landscapes, seasons, and nonhu­ man life of Ehrlich’s Wyoming, this new book is characterized by the author’s inveterate wanderings. Admirers of Ehrlich’s ability to cultivate and express a rich sense of place may be disoriented by a book which includes brief stops at a number of places including—among others—Ehrlich’s Wyoming ranch, a southern California hospital, a London hotel, an Alaskan glacier, a North Carolina conference, and a Santa Barbara beach house. If there is a “place” in this book, it is not desert, glacier, or ocean, but the incomprehensibly complex and beautiful world ofthe human body. “A body is a separate continent,” writes Ehrlich, “a whole ecosystem, a secret spinning planet.” One of the accomplishments of A Match to the Heart is its successful exploration of the corporeal landscape of the self. By looking closely at the effects oflightning upon the human body, this book conveys a unique apprecia­ tion for an inner wilderness of nerve, blood, and synapse—that world within a world upon which all our ennobling perceptions of nature ultimately depend. MICHAEL BRANCH FloridaInternational University ...


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pp. 391-392
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