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b o o k Re v ie w s 2 1 3 layered over a difficult relationship with her father that Legler tries to sal­ vage or at least explain. The central argument for the collection comes almost in the middle, with Lorde’s “erotic charge” extended to Legler’s connections with hunting, preparing, sharing, and eating the things that she has killed; her charge as a sexual being; her charge as a member of a community (of writers, teachers, lesbians, friends, family). The beauty and texture of the collection is seen best in the open-ended pondering in the final chapter. Legler is camping with a group of women in the northern Minnesota boundary waters, and a friend is recounting an experience viewing the northern lights. Legler represents the tone of the entire collection and its pull between the natural world, self, and awareness when she says, “You always must go back to your own particular life with a vague ache in your heart; an ache that suggests to you there is another place you should be, although you don’t know where it is” (182). The collection does not conclude so much as end with reiterated connections to the intan­ gible world, but the honesty of the quest is compelling. F ear Falls Away and Other Essays from Hard and Rocky Places. By Janice Emily Bowers. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997. 175 pages, $35.00/$ 16.95. Reviewed by Sarah L. Bennett U tah State University Following Janice Emily Bowers through the pages of Fear Falls Away is like spending the day with a favorite hiking partner whose lively step, keen observations, and graceful insight can reveal the life and beauty of a land­ scape and nurture the soul. With the heart and earnestness of a poet and the eye of a painter, Bowers considers the mountainscapes around her home in Tucson from a perspective that is at once intimate and vast, but always human. Faced with the possibility of having to leave her beloved desert home after more than twenty years, Bowers revisits her favorite canyons and ridgelines as scientist, artist, and pilgrim, seeking an understanding of the many threads that tie her to those sacred places. Formally trained and employed as a botanist, and regionally recognized as a writer and naturalist (A Full Life in a Small Place and Other Essays from a Desert Garden, 1995), Bowers has an enormous wealth of information to share on the life processes of that region’s desert flora and fauna. Bowers offers treasures in gratitude and celebration of place: the precise conditions in which brittlebrush seeds can germinate; a woodpecker gathering and storing acorns in a snag used by generations of his kind where “[t]he tree seems to have a hundred brown eyeballs” (28); light playing in the irides­ cent feathers of a hummingbird’s chin; butterflies “mudding” on wet sand near a seep. These details are gifts, not rulers with which Bowers measures her intellect or raps our knuckles in order to gain our attention. And while 2 1 4 WAL 3 3 ( 2 ) S u m m e r 1 9 9 8 she often requires we stoop to put eye to flower or darting bird, or pause to glance upward toward a ridge or a wheeling raptor, the effortless stride of her prose and her story are not broken but continue upward toward high places. Bowers takes special care not to leave us off the trail somewhere overcome with awe in a mystical daze but instead grounds us in the profound attachments we make to the wild places we love in the context of everyday human realities. Perhaps this is what is most successful and most important about Fear Falls A way. Forced to consider leaving southern Arizona initiates a thoughtful exploration of Bowers’ own internal, as well as surrounding external, landscapes where she considers the behavioral, emotional, and psychological adaptations we, as a species, make to place. Recognition of the ongoing evolutionary symbiosis humans share with their natural surroundings is a constant theme throughout these essays and a noteworthy undertaking for a nature writer. The rock art of the Hohokam who once lived...


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pp. 213-215
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