A brilliantly illuminating portrait of the twenty-first-century West—a book as vast, diverse, and unexpected as the land and the people, from one of our foremost chroniclers of migration
The economic boom—and the devastation left in its wake—has been writ nowhere as large as on the West, the most iconic of American landscapes. Over the last decade the West has undergone a political and demographic upheaval comparable only to the opening of the frontier. Now, in Desert America, a work of powerful reportage and memoir, Rubén Martínez, acclaimed author of Crossing Over, evokes a new world of extremes: outrageous wealth and devastating poverty, sublime beauty and ecological ruin.
In northern New Mexico, an epidemic of drug addiction flourishes in the shadow of some of the country's richest zip codes; in Joshua Tree, California, gentrification displaces people and history. In Marfa, Texas, an exclusive enclave triggers a race war near the banks of the Rio Grande. And on the Tohono O'odham reservation, Native Americans hunt down Mexican migrants crossing the most desolate stretch of the border.
With each desert story, Martínez explores his own encounter with the West and his love for this most contested region. In the process, he reveals that the great frontier is now a harbinger of the vast disparities that are redefining the very idea of America.
"It's hard to imagine a more engaging and illuminating chronicle of the contemporary West.... A nuanced, conflicted, poetic meditation on an endlessly elusive subject."
--"San Francisco Chronicle"
"Deeply moving and insightful... A memoir that also manages to be an excellent work of reportage... Martinez treats all the people he writes about, and the places where they live, with the kind of profound respect all too rare among the legions of Western writers who have preceded him. The result is an emotional and intellectually astute portrait of communities long neglected and misunderstood by American literature."
--"Los Angeles Times"
"A compelling and daring book, one filled with equal parts confession, history, and politics... This book will challenge every idea you may have formed about life and death in our western deserts."
--"Los Angeles Review of Books"
"Unflinching... A sensitive, intricate perspective on the boom and bust cycle that characterizes the dry landscape of the American Southwest."
"A savage journey into terror, cacti, drugs, desperation and all-around anomie in the superheated atmosphere of the desert Southwest... A necessary chronicle of a weird corner of America."
"--Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)
"Martinez offers reportage beyond the simple binaries of the immigration issue or the drug war. He delivers a lively, compassionate intervention into our collective conception of the Southwest... This thoughtful and well-written account intimately explores the convolutions of racism and class conflict that have come to define a divided America."
"After burn-outs in LA and Mexico City, Martinez flees to the desert in the hope that fierce, simplifying landscapes will cure his urban addictions. But he quickly discovers that the desert, far from a bohemian alternative, is actually the crisis of working-class American life reframed in the starkest existentia
Number Of Pages: 333
Published: 11th September 2012
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 15.5 x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.612