by Terry Tempest Williams

Paperback, 1992




New York, NY : Vintage Books, 1992.


In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, the Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by.

User reviews

LibraryThing member -Cee-
I've been very stingy of 5 star ratings lately. But, this one is a winner!

Here is an emotionally charged book that is chock full of moral issues, as well as intimate sharing of life, death, suffering, and beauty. Full of women's wisdom and the cycles of nature. This is one of those books that if you can make it through the initial reading you will want to re-read it to pick up the subtle details and think about it more fully.

I'm reading this book for my course in moral theory. Not a textbook at all, it is a personal journey through an especially difficult time of the author's life - both inner struggles and environmental issues to which she feels strongly connected. Our assignments are broken down into three sections of reading, but I could not put it down till I was finished.

So many quotable quotes. As I approach the inevitable deaths of my mother, my loved ones, and even myself, this one strikes me as something to think about -
"Suffering shows what we are attached to ... Dying doesn't cause suffering. Resistance to dying does."

The crisis of the Great Salt Lake, how nature adapts, and ways humans interfere reflect the personal crisis Terry Tempest Williams faces in her family and how the natural landscape of desert and marsh become her refuge in vulnerability and strength.

I will be looking for more books by T T Williams.
… (more)
LibraryThing member kukulaj
We just moved to Utah from New York, which is quite a culture shock. This was a great book to help us understand our new home. Rich descriptions of the Lake and the birds that pass through, plus many reflections on Mormon history and culture. My father recently passed away after a long decline, and my mother has had a few serious medical episodes. The cancer illnesses in this book aren't the same as what has happened in our family, but the descriptions ring quite true.… (more)
LibraryThing member nilchance
This book broke my heart. Nature, family, cancer, strength, mothers, grief, floods of salt water and tears. Williams' spare, gorgeous prose drives her readers through the pages, even though some of the material is emotionally difficult.
LibraryThing member co_coyote
Terry Tempest Williams is another of those naturalists, along with Barry Lopez, who can write beautifully about the human condition in the midst of landscape. Here she combines her grief at the loss of her mother to breast cancer with the birds she loves at a nearby refuge. An extremely moving book by one of my favorite authors.… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
I had Williams recommended to me by fellow bloggers when I posted about wanting to read a Utah voice while on my trip. My first stop in Salt Lake City was The King’s English Bookstore. I asked for recommendations at the bookstore and I was led to this author and this book. It was a good choice for this trip.Williams tells two stories in the book: the story of her mother’s four year struggle with cancer and the simultaneous and parallel story of the struggles of birds finding refuge near a swelling Great Salt Lake.… (more)
LibraryThing member eduscapes
This book explores the parallel stories of the author's experience with the changes in a wildlife preserve and her mother's experiences facing cancer.
LibraryThing member TunstallSummerReads
In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer.
That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons,
owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One
event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's
mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s.
As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into
a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.
… (more)
LibraryThing member roulette.russe
This is one of the most touching books I ever read. One would first think of it as esoteric, but it's actually a very sensitive and sincere autobiography that reminds us of the fragility of Nature, while being a very strong example of woman introspective literature. Studied in a Feminist Literature course at university.
LibraryThing member jarvenpa
I read it the year both my parents died of cancer. It was solace and pain, beauty and passion. It was a life line, and an elegant book indeed.
LibraryThing member eachurch
A moving book about death and change, and how hard both can be. I thought her use of the parallel stories was very effective. The last chapter was a little jarring as it's tone was so completely different from the rest of the book. Overall, it is an engrossing, beautifully written book, and I particularly appreciated the insights into Mormon culture.… (more)
LibraryThing member mahallett
an interesting painful story but williams irritTatED ME. SHE was so angry. i didn't like anybody in the book really.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Wow. This'll stay with me for a while. Evocative provocative poetic essays to savor.

A couple of warnings - it's not so much about family as about the women in the family. I was frustrated waiting for the males' pov, but she explains her focus at the end so it's ok. Also she meticulously records the progression of the lake's levels, but frustratingly doesn't put dates with them. Maybe she was trying to be timeless or something, but with all the other attention to detail and science, I found it maddening to have to figure out the spaces of time between the events of each episode.… (more)
LibraryThing member billsearth
This book has two themes, decades long observations of relatives getting and dying of cancer, and decades long observation of the changes in the bird, animal, and plant life at Great Salk Lake Utah. In the first half of the book the emphasis is on the biota of the lake shores and Islands. In the second half it incrementaly shifts to an emphasis on the cancers killing relatives and those living in that region. In the latter part, the author deals with how we care for dying cancer victims, then on the cause of so much local cancer. She also shows how the changes in the biota of the lake and its shores is equal parts natural changes and human manipulation of the lake. At the end of the book the human manipulation of the lake merges with the increased cancer in the people there as well as the biota changes at the lake.
This is an in-depth treatment of the inter-relationships between the natural world and human influence.
The reader is left with a feeling of responsibility to look at the overall affect of any human changes in the landscape, city planning, flood control, hazardous waste site locations, containment of hazardous sobstances, and generally best use planning for areas. These decisions have lasting impact on those living in the area.
… (more)
LibraryThing member dele2451
Admittedly, it is very difficult for me to be objective about this book because I am such a big fan of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and a 7-year cancer survivor. TTW's poetic accounts of the wonders and tragedies associated with both of these worlds really resonated with me. Coincidentally, I started reading this book I watched the Weber, Great Salt Lake and Bear River all test their banks during May's record-breaking rains so I had a living illustration of the flood cycles and their impact on the fragile homes of both birds and humans. I've seen every bird she mentions at BRMBR (and captured pictures of most with my trusty camera) with the exception of the snow bunting so I'll be on the lookout for those from now on. I'd say this book is a must-read for any Utahn and anyone doubting the need for funding wildlife refuges plus a recommended read for just about everybody else.… (more)



Page: 0.2674 seconds