Finding Beauty In A Broken World

I really have been reading. It's so wonderful! Here's a review I just put up at the bookworm blog ...

This is the first book I've read by Terry Tempest Williams although I've heard her name in the distance for years. And the truth is I set the book down after the first 35 pages and it was only by chance I picked it up after two weeks and began again. The second time I barely set it down until I turned the last page though.

Finding Beauty opens with TTW's experience with making mosaic in Italy, the metaphor of which is carried through the remainder of the book. I could have done without this part but the art ties the remaining two seemingly disparate sections of the book together.

The first half, after the opening, is about prairie dogs. Yeah, I know. Prairie dogs. I saw one once and have never given them another thought. Given their shrinking numbers I'll likely never see one again either. And I was fascinated with them.

TTW spends two weeks with a leading prairie dog researcher in the Utah desert observing the dogs 14 hours a day. Her observations are all over the map. They're part memoir, part poetry, part educational, humor, despair, part hope. I fell in love with prairie dogs. They live in communities, communally nurse the young and are brilliant in their contribution to the natural landscape. And they have language. It's amazing.

The second half of the book is about the author's experience in Rwanda with a group of artists building a memorial in a survivors town. It's a world away from the Utah desert but TTW ties it in with the mosaic metaphor. I appreciated reading the ways in which the Rwanda people are healing. And it was hard to read what individual people went through, are still going through. But there's beauty; the never ending beauty of spirit, of community, of courage and renewal. A miracle really.

I not only learned about prairie dogs and the people of Rwanda from reading this book but it reminded me to look for beauty in the broken places too. My only disappointment is I can't read it for the first time again.


Theresa said...

This sounds like quite an intense book. Finding beauty in a broken world is a skill we'll all need to get better at, I think.

We don't have prairie dogs here, but we do have a close cousin of theirs, the richardson's ground squirrel. I love to watch their antics in the fields and boulevards around where I live. I find them very cute, but I am partial to rodents of all kinds :)

Annie said...

Just wanted you to know that I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger award. You can pick it up and see the other winners. The way this award works is to pay it forward to 10 others. Congrats, well deserved of course, now it's your turn to choose the winners -

Kale for Sale said...

Theresa - The section about Rwanda was intense but not so much that I had to close the book. It was a good intense.

That's funny that you're partial to rodents. I'm scared to death of the damn things. Well, except squirrels. I think of you as the water woman and there was a part about the prairie dogs keeping the soil arable (is that the right word?). They maintained the soil in such a way that it could hold the rain. It was another example of the brilliant web of nature. We're all related.

Annie - That's very nice of you. Thank you.