Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge

Article excerpt

Review: Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge By Carol Ann Bassett Reviewed by Robert D. Hook University of Idaho, USA Carol Ann Bassett; photographs by Michael Hyatt. Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2004. 89 pp. ISBN 0-8165-2384-3 (paperback). US$13.95. Alkaline paper.

The Desert Places series has another hit. Carol Ann Bassett, an instructor in magazine writing, environmental journalism, and literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon, provides us with a capsule of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in this short but very informative book. Michael Hyatt, whose fourteen photographs beautifully enhance the text, has been photographing the people and landscape of the American Southwest for more than thirty-five years. One of the things that I believe makes this book and the others in the series valuable is the deft intertwining of text and photographs.

Bassett says she wanted to show her "deepest feelings about Organ Pipe and why it has been for me a place of solitude and refuge" (p. xii). She has done this admirably. I particularly enjoyed her pithy comments and poems which add glimpses into her personal impressions of the area. Her writing evokes such sharp images that the reader can almost see the saguaro cactus bloom or the nighthawk swoop and skim over the Quitobaquito Springs.

The text is the record of Bassett's many trips into the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument since 1988. It is more than a record of her treks through the area; it is her perception of the area, whether it is a view of the Ajo Mountains or the experience of a prehistoric sleeping circle found within them. She has done an excellent job in reviewing the many aspects of the area including the human habitation as well as the flora and the fauna of the area. She discusses the different flora (Organ Pipe, Saguaro, poppies, etc.) and fauna (packrats, bats, lizards, birds, etc. …

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