As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, Castle Valley author Terry Tempest Williams is highlighting 12 of the agency’s sites across the country in her latest work, “The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks.”
Back of Beyond Books is welcoming the author and naturalist to celebrate the book’s release next week at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St. On Monday, June 6, at 7:30 p.m., she will read from “The Hour of Land” and share her thoughts about the book and its primary message: what the parks are, and what they could and should be.
Williams is a beloved writer recognized across the nation and the world as a keen observer of nature and a clarion for humanity’s connection with its home, and would have been warmly welcomed in any community across the country, said Phil Irby of Back of Beyond Books.
Tempest Williams said she is grateful for the opportunity to debut the work in her home with the support of close friends.
“Moab is our home community and I am deeply grateful for the friendships that are ours,” she said. “(Back of Beyond Books owner) Andy Nettell was the first person I talked to about writing ‘The Hour of Land’ and the first person I showed the finished manuscript to after I had mailed it to my editor. It’s a homegrown affair. So, it feels celebratory to have the first readings here at home in the proximity of Arches and Canyonlands.”
Early reviews are praising “The Hour of Land” as an eloquent and lyrical meditation that is also part manifesto and social critique.
“She has observational skills that are remarkable,” Nettell said. “She can see the small pebbles and rocks in the landscape, and elevate that elemental thing to illuminate the bigger picture.”
She holds nothing back in her latest work, he said.
“I see no separation between a writing life and a life engaged,” Tempest Williams said. “It is about bearing witness with a heightened sense of consciousness and consequence. What I love and what I advocate for are the same things: family, community, health, both human and wild.”
With more than 84 million acres of land and 410 sites, the National Park Service system hosted more than 300 million visitors in 2015 – a testament to the wisdom of its creation, and an argument in favor of continuing strong support to protect the inherent value of wild places for generations to come, Tempest Williams said.
“In America, one is cautious to use the word environmentalist,” she said. “I, personally, think we need to own it. Especially now. Especially here. Island in the Sky and Dead Horse Point are now annexes to oil fields. The Colorado Plateau is being cut up in pieces by oil and gas development – we are seeing the ongoing fragmentation of America’s red-rock desert.”
Current political realities leave her at a loss for systemic solutions, she said. As the nation faces starkly polarized choices about its future at home and abroad, natural resources hang in a balance that she is approaching with expression grounded in love and universally accessible creativity, she said.
“I believe the tide is shifting. Climate change is about justice for all, not just the privileged few,” she said, citing Exxon Mobil investors’ recent confrontation with the company on its environmental policy as an example of powerful progress. “Exxon’s investors have just given them the word: Change or die. This is good advice for all of us. Not easy, but necessary. I still hold fast to Abbey’s words: ‘Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul. Action is what is called for – each in our own way with the gifts that are ours.’”
In addition to “The Hour of Land,” the release will also feature a limited edition, hand-bound special printing of its Canyonlands chapter. The chapter is a series of letters written from Castle Valley, many about protecting Canyonlands and America’s red rock wilderness, Tempest Williams said.
Printed by letterpress on classic French paper with individually developed photos pasted onto the pages, the book is illustrated with photography from five Moab-based photographers: Bruce Hucko, Chris Noble, Jeff Foott, Judith Zimmerman and Resford Rouzer, Tempest Williams’ former student and a native Moab resident.
“We thought it would be a window of wildness, a beautiful book to hold in place,” she said.
Tempest Williams to debut new national parks book at Star Hall on June 6
What: A book release with Terry Tempest Williams, author of the new book “The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks”
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
When: Monday, June 6, at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free tickets, with a limit of two each. Available at Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St., or call 1-800-700-2859
(Back of Beyond Books owner) Andy Nettell was the first person I talked to about writing ‘The Hour of Land’ and the first person I showed the finished manuscript to after I had mailed it to my editor. It’s a homegrown affair. So, it feels celebratory to have the first readings here at home in the proximity of Arches and Canyonlands.
For more information, stop by Back of Beyond Books at 83 N. Main St., or call 1-800-700-2859.