The Opal Desert: Explorations of Fantasy and Reality in the American Southwest

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The opalescent deserts of the American Southwest have become romantic icons in the public imagination through the words of writers, the images of artists and photographers, and the visual storytelling of filmmakers. In this spirited, personal, beautifully written book, Peter Wild explores the lives and works of sixteen writers whose words have shaped our visions of the opal desert. Wild begins with Cabeza de Vaca, whose Relacion of his desert wanderings sent treasure-hungry Spaniards searching for cities of gold. He goes on to discuss the works of both widely read and lesser-known nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors, including such luminaries as Mary Austin, Joseph Wood Krutch, Edward Abbey, Ann Zwinger, and Charles Bowden. He links all the writers as explorers of one kind or another, searching for tangible or intangible treasures, some finding and some losing their dreams in the opal desert.