I just found this....the good thing about sitting in the desert day and night, glued to the computer, cleaning up files, reflecting on recent months of living....these reviews give a lot of overview and insight of the many diverse and fascinating authors whose works appear in "Puritan," and also offer literary criticism that serves as a guide for me.....and....
I hope others, to understand the complex framework of how the works are carefully arranged, to reflect a cornucopia of stories spilling out of an apparently lifeless form...spilling onto the table for a literary feast in astonishing abundance from our state's most arid lands....in a recursive, not-entirely-linear literary passage....circling in and in upon itself as a comprehensive and self-containing, time-and-people-and-events embracing gesture of the ouroboros...a nifty paradigm that hopefully provides a convenient metaphor for the collection's intent...to the earliest people in the earliest times - the desert's vastly diverse, Native Americans - who have lived here since before time as those of us in the early 21st century *think* we know it began.
In short: these reviews help me understand the book better than I ever could have while steeped in the deepness of...bringing it to fruition, working closely every step of the way with my wise editor and guide, Gayle Wattawa, Acquistions Editor at Heyday (who also edited Inlandia: a literary journey through Southern California's Inland Empire, 2006), and many friends and colleagues, without whose widespread support this book never would have been.
No Place for a Puritan - here is a very nice review by the LA Books Examiner:
published on May 10, by reviewer Laura Frazin Steele
No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California's Deserts edited by Ruth Nolan is an interesting and unique anthology that focuses on the history and culture of California's richly diverse desert region. No Place for a Puritan is published by Heyday Books, a Berkeley, California based publisher that aspires to deepen the awareness of California's rich cultural, natural, literary, and historic resources.
Ruth Nolan's No Place for a Puritan will expand the reader's understanding and appreciation of the California desert. Rather than viewing the desert as a wasteland, the reader will come to realize that the desert is an exotic environment that has become overdeveloped, overcrowded, and threatened.
No Place for a Puritan examines the California desert within the context of its inherent dangers, the lure of the desert and desert life, changes to the desert landscape over time, and conservation and protection of its resources.
This distinctive anthology includes the works of 80 respected and award winning authors and poets. Their contributions are as rich and diverse as the desert itself. For example, No Place for a Puritan includes the poem "Sleep in the Mojave Desert" by the late acclaimed poet and author Sylvia Plath. Her highly descriptive poem was inspired by a night of camping in the desert.
Furthermore, No Place for a Puritan includes an excerpt from Farewell to Manzanar, the moving bestseller that documents living conditions for Japanese Americans in a relocation center during World War II by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her late husband James D. Houston.
Also included in No Place for a Puritan is an excerpt from The Raw Pearl, the autobiography of the late Pearl Bailey, a legendary American singer and entertainer who lived in a dude ranch in Apple Valley, California that catered to African Americans during the 1950s.
Joseph E. Stevens' well-researched book Hoover Dam: An American Adventure offers a history of Hoover Dam, which allowed for the settlement of Southwest deserts and inland regions. An excerpt from Hoover Dam is included in No Place for a Puritan to describe major historical changes to the desert landscape over time.
The late writer and environmentalist Marc Reisner contributed to No Place for a Puritan with his excerpt from Cadillac Desert, which documents the complex policies and history of water management in the nation's West. The excerpt from Cadillac Desert describes the epic construction of the Los Angeles aqueduct, which imports water into Southern California from the California Owens Valley.
The award winning environmental and political writer Rebecca Solnit movingly describes her political activism in a 1994 antinuclear demonstration at the Yucca Mountain test site in her book Savage Dreams, which is excerpted in No Place for a Puritan. In Savage Dreams Rebecca Solnit closely examines nuclear testing conducted by the U.S. government in California's Mojave Desert.
On Thursday May 13, 2010, editor Ruth Nolan and No Place for a Puritan contributors Juan Felipe Herrera and Susan Straight will discuss their work at the Riverside Art Museum at 6:00 p.m. Additional information about these authors and the event will be available in this column. If you would like an e-mail notification of this event and more information about the authors, click the subscribe button at the top of the page.
No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California's Deserts edited by Ruth Nolan is available through Heyday Books.
this review can also be viewed online at http://www.examiner.com/x-31737-LA-Books-Examiner~y2010m5d10-No-Place-for-a-Puritan-explores-changes-to-Californias-deserts
AND HERE IS ANOTHER REVIEW....from San Francisco Books Examiner No Place for a Puritan: the Literature of California’s Deserts. Reviewed by SF Books Examiner LJ Moore April 3
Ruth Nolan’s 2009 anthology, No Place for a Puritan, is a collection of stories, poems, essays, and meditations on the deserts of California, divided into seven sections: Dangers, Crossings, Refuge and Exile, Lure, Desert as Home, Changing Desert, and Conservation/Protection. The variety and range of contributors makes this collection go to work differently on the consciousness than does a single-author book, creating an impression by accumulation, and offering a vicarious experience through observations, epiphanies, and lore about the desert landscape no single person could accrue in one lifetime.
Reading No Place for a Puritan is like sitting around a campfire listening to John Steinbeck, Cesar Chavez, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Aldous Huxley, Rebecca Solnit, General George S. Patton and Panamint Annie compare notes... only without the fistfight.
Nolan’s guiding genius in putting together this anthology is the recognition that an essential character of the human psyche is to attach emotional values to our physical spaces, and then to treat them accordingly. For many of us, the desert is labeled internally as an empty, no-go zone: a place you wouldn’t want to run out of gas, or the interminable emptiness one is forced to drive through on the way to Las Vegas or Yuma or Palm Springs. It has been variously called unforgiving, deadly, barren, hellish, and is even in film and fiction depicted as inhabited with a kind of supernatural or diabolical cruelty. That imagined desert is a flat, cartoonish place, empty, sere and scattered with the bones of the wayward: a stereotype that holds, not because it is true, but because in a place of both subtlety and extremes, the extremes are easier to see.
To see the desert as it really is, one must enter it and spend some time there, as the authors included in this anthology have done. One must get quiet and one must get small, as Ann Haymond Zwinger does, following the telltale signs of sidewinders and fringe-toed lizards: species uniquely adapted to flow nimbly across sand dunes. Alternatively, there is the way of Mary Elizabeth White, a miner and prospector who moved to Death Valley in 1931 and made her home there until 1979, living in a Model A truck, an old army ambulance, or as part of an itinerant “prospector family.” Then there's Pearl Bailey, who took over a dude ranch and called the desert home. There is also the tribal history of the deserts, home to Native American peoples, among them the Chemehuevi, Paiute, Mojave, Kawaiisu, Cahuilla, Serrano, Koso, and Kitanemuk, for thousands of years. And there is the darker history: the nuclear bomb tests, the Japanese internment camps, the Salton Sea: our attempts to tame and reshape the landscape to serve our purposes by unsustainable development.
In bringing together this deep and varied array of writings, Nolan offers a glimpse into the richness and subtlety of the California deserts: both physically and culturally. It is strangely impossible not to fall in love with a place at once enduring and vulnerable. On one hand, the desert refuses to be harnessed in the ways we have tried: paved into resorts, or irrigated to a suburban splendor. On the other hand, it is a precarious ecosystem, a place where the balance between living and dying is always skin-thin. It is a place so quiet you can hear a raven flying half a mile away because of the wind against its feathers. A place where, after a spring rain, you could lie on your belly and count a thousand flowers within three feet of your face, all less than two inches high.
Why is it no place for a Puritan? Because there's no point in harnessing the mules just to drive them into the dust. The history of our human relationship with California’s deserts drives home a critical lesson: peace and longevity with nature can't be achieved by considering ourselves an instrument of its domination. At worst we lust after the wrong dreams, but at best we acknowledge nature on it's own terms, becoming part of it: participants whose best achievements come from learning to appreciate and adapt to its larger rhythm.