Tag Archives: New Mexico

Thwarted Pilgrimage: ‘White Sands’ by Geoff Dyer

There are a few different types of ignorance at work in Geoff Dyer’s new book, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, a collection of essays that combine travel writing and art criticism. One kind is artificial ignorance as an interpretative tool. Often, when he is ignoring information, sloughing off context on which another critic might lean all his weight, Dyer (or the genre-bending author’s narrator whom I will call Dyer) is at his sharpest. In “Space in Time,” the author travels to Quemado, New Mexico, to see Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, but he holds off telling us …Continue reading

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The West as ‘Lonely, Heartbreaking, Scary, Sacred’: Q&A with Rubén Martínez

In her 1985 book, Desert Passages: Encounters with the American Deserts, historian Patricia Nelson Limerick pondered the reactions to the desert from people such as Mark Twain, explorer and surveyor John C. Frémont, irrigation promoter William Ellsworth Smythe, and art historian John Van Dyke. In her introduction she writes, “While the actual landscape is of considerable importance in this story, the intellectual focus rests on the different appearance and meaning available to different viewers.” That passage could describe the running theme of Rubén Martínez’s riveting new book, Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West (Metropolitan Books). “The …Continue reading

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Creatures in the Desert: ‘A Million Heavens’ by John Brandon

Probably the most enjoyable theme through all of John Brandon’s novels is his fascination with people in solitude, because it allows Brandon to linger on often-bizarre penchants and lifestyles. In Arkansas we saw the partnership of Swin Ruiz and Kyle Ribb, two young guys whose utter weirdness in personality lands them in the drug running business. In Citrus County, he focused on the dark longings of his characters, which they ponder on long walks through the forest, or during detention in an undecorated middle-school classroom. In his new novel, A Million Heavens (McSweeney’s; 272 pages), Brandon maintains his interest in …Continue reading

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