The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky (Paperback)
In this invigorating mix of natural history and adventure, artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy uses turquoise—the color and the gem—to probe deeper into our profound human attachment to landscape.
From the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave Desert, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Bahamas to her home ground on the high plateaus and deep canyons of the Southwest, we journey with Meloy through vistas of both great beauty and great desecration. Her keen vision makes us look anew at ancestral mountains, turquoise seas, and even motel swimming pools. She introduces us to Navajo “velvet grandmothers” whose attire and aesthetics absorb the vivid palette of their homeland, as well as to Persians who consider turquoise the life-saving equivalent of a bullet-proof vest. Throughout, Meloy invites us to appreciate along with her the endless surprises in all of life and celebrates the seduction to be found in our visual surroundings.
About the Author
ELLEN MELOY, a recipient of a Whiting Foundation Award in 1997, was a native of the West and lived in California, Montana, and Utah. Her previous book, The Anthropology of Turquoise, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Utah Book Award and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award in the adventure and travel category. She is also the author of Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River and The Last Cheater’s Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest. Meloy spent most of her life in wild, remote places; at the time of her sudden death in November 2004 (three months after completing Eating Stone), she and her husband were living in southern Utah.
“Exquisitely rendered. . . . Meloy’s gem-studded collection calls us to be mindful of the physical world, to see it—really see it—with fresh eyes.” —Los Angeles Times
“Meloy’s vision of the world through turquoise-colored glasses is a unique, moving, self-effacing delight.” —The Washington Post
“By the time you lift your eyes from the last page, you’ll be longing to clasp a piece of stone, to be surrounded by blue water. . . . Powerful and transporting—and funny.” —The Times-Picayune
“Finely crafted, vigorously descriptive, dazzling in its insights into biology and culture.” —Booklist
“[Meloy] crafts potent meditations on the desert landscape. . . . The Anthropology of Turquoise explores Meloy’s beloved Southwest—a region she knows intimately and describes with her trademark sharp wit.” —Salt Lake Tribune
“Amusing and intelligent . . . the talented Meloy is a Southwestern voice to listen to.” —Santa Fe New Mexican
“Smart, evocative, and memorable: Nature-writing done right." —Kirkus (starred review)
“Combine[s] the best of travel writing with fascinating slices of history in an irresistible invitation to open our eyes and our minds, taking beauty where we find it.” —Kingston Springs Advocate
“Diverse, thoughtful, and humorous.” —Albuquerque Journal
“A book of great beauty under which lies a drumbeat of grief and passion for the desert. Meloy is a perfect, often hilarious guide. Trust her on any river. There are images in this book I will never forget.” —Nora Gallagher, author of Practicing Resurrection