--Bill MCKibben, author Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet
"As deBuys wanders from Las Vegas to Mesa Verde to the Glen Canyon Dam, he gives the past and present their due as he maps our way to a drier future. No longer are aridity and climate change in the Southwest only of regional interest; deBuys is writing for America and we should all listen to what he has to say.”
--Colleen Mondor, Booklist
--Donna Seaman, Booklist
Biography and Memoir
e.g. Fiction, History, Magazine Articles, etc. goes here
Review and Comment:
"Muscular and smart."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"The Walk will resonate with all readers."
"A powerfully quiet and deeply centered book."
"Inspiring simply because it is so perfectly written ... The Walk is a few shades short of melancholy -- and it is altogether lovely."
--High Country News
"Love fractures and friends die. We turn back to renew ourselves amid the energies of the world. In The Walk William deBuys finds solace an healing while hiking in groves of yellow bark ponderosa, in the first flush of spring irrigation water and horses running through stands of timothy -- the various glories we share while trying to do good work together. It’s a story from which an old western fellow like me took considerable heart."
"This book is a marvel of the small detail that opens great vistas in the heart."
--Alison Hawthorne Deming
A species of hope resides in the possibility of seeing one thing, one phenomenon or essence, so clearly and fully that the light of its understanding illuminates the rest of life. Almost any object of contemplation can be the vehicle for such discovery. When I study the surface of the pine desk where I am writing and admire the faint green tint of the stain that penetrates the wood and the lines of darker grain that resist the stain, it takes no leap of imagination to reflect that each line of grain marks a year of growth and to be reminded that this wood was once the flesh of a living tree. Perhaps it stood within a forest on a western mountainside, one not far different from the forest that enfolds the valley where this desk occupies the corner of a cabin, a forest that clothed itself in a green of which the stain of the desk is the merest echo, a forest that answered the wind with its own individual sound, singing or groaning when the wind tore through it. It would have been a forest that bore up to the lashing of rain, snow, and sun and that flourished under their mercies ... a living community of interrelations more complex than the most brilliant among us has the power to conceive. In this way, the grain of this pine desk becomes a portal to the complexity of creation. (pp. 1-2)
Perfection, in a way, is simple. Things that are unblemished -- Keats’s urn, the heartthrob’s face -- have a simplicity and coherence that seem radiant, transcendent. Age and time have not affected them. Their elegance shimmers, seemingly immortal. But add a crack to the Grecian urn or crowsfeet around the eyes of Venus or Adonis, and history and complexity intrude. We cannot ignore that something has happened. Something is continuing to happen. And in this world beyond the gates of Eden, if time passes and things keep happening, eventually suffering must intrude; it cannot be otherwise. And when suffering intrudes, still more complexity arises because suffering complicates our response to the world. We can ignore it. We can shut it out, or at least try to. Or we can let it in so that we see it, hear it, and feel it, in which case our hearts begin to ache. And when our hearts ache, whether for the refugee, the absent lover, the sick friend, or the ailing forest, we feel them more, and they open wider. (p. 29)
I believed I knew the origin of the skull.
Some years earlier a cow had died -- or a dead cow had been discarded -- in the head of a gully beside a disused logging road a quarter mile away. The carcass appeared in summer, when food was abundant, and the forest community did not consume it with the speed it consumed Geranium. For months the gully reeked. In those days I rode the logging track regularly, and I would kick my horse and hold my breath passing by. Back then I also collected skulls, and I kept my eye on the cow’s, but it vanished before it was clean enough to take home. Now, perhaps this was that very skull, reappeared from a secret, inner space of the forest.
Tales that cast coyote as trickster abound in native lore. No other creature seems so instinctively inclined to mischief. Fox may be sly, but he is not bold enough for joking. Wolf is bold but not light-hearted. Bear is both bold and strong, but too hazy-witted to deal in irony and symbolism. Cougar and bobcat, like all felines, are too self-absorbed. Among our cast of forest characters only raven also possesses the requisite curiosity and knack for mockery, but raven, being a bird, is too small for muscular pranks. (pp. 90-91)
The backs of the horses begin to shine. They stand immobile at the fence, massive and so warm-bodied that wisps of cool steam begin to rise from their withers. Babe and Rowdy are stolid, the others restless. I think of their breathing, deep and slow, filling the damp of their lungs, and I think of their ceaseless gut rumble and of the fountains of blood pumping through them. I think what an odd convergence of psychology and mechanics they represent: the ever-growing hoof that burns with the reek of hair; the fragile steel of the legs and their bowstring ligaments; the powerful muscles of the rump, like coiled springs, and the still more powerful shoulders and brute chest; the tough, danderous hide that encases it all; the tail that for sheer extravagance and luxury puts the tail of every other grazing animal to shame; and the elegant curve of the long neck, draped with long dark feminine locks of mane, and then the head so alternately cantankerous and noble, with its tender muzzle and almost prehensile nostrils, the teeth ever-growing like the hooves, the swiveling and expressive ears, the soulful eyes, which harbor in their brine weird growths that look like polyps on a deep sea reef; and then the brain behind the eyes, and whatever spirit or genie goes with the brain, which in their sum result in horses’ being as various and endearing and infuriating as people, which means that finding the right horse can be nearly as difficult as finding a partner for sharing a life.
The rain patters down, warm and gentle. Undeterred by the wet, the "Who’s there?" bird calls again from the cottonwoods. The horses seem to drowse, except for TJ, who remembers his stomach and fills his mouth with grass. He chews; the others merely stand. Then Babe’s tail begins to flick. One, two, three times, and stays erect. A shudder runs through her, and she feints as though to rear and instead swells with air and spasms out a caterwaul that shatters the peace of the valley. She kicks at the sorrel, pivots, and kicks at Rowdy. Hooves flash, and mud flies. Bodies thud. Fence wires screech, and the melee starts anew. Dust rises in spite of the rain, and I think, no, not the tranquil beauty of mere moments ago. Instead this, the perfection of disorder and desire. The paradise of how it has to be. This is it. (pp. 150-151)