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selections from the work of ELLEN MELOY
photographs by STEPHEN STROM

"Meloy’s nonfiction sparkles, taunts, and ensnares the reader with her incisive humor and stunning depictions of desert landscapes and wildlife."


Writer and naturalist Ellen Meloy and photographer Stephen Strom met in the fall of 2004 and began work on a book of images and prose expressing their shared love of the desert. Two months later, Meloy died suddenly at her home in southern Utah. Over the years to follow, Strom called on Meloy’s writing to put his new photographs to words. The collaboration seemed to deepen over time, and it comes to fruition in This Desert Hides Nothing, edited by poet Ann Walka, a friend of Ellen Meloy.  

September 2020 | Nonfiction | 978-1-948814-28-7| 80 pp | $15.95


ELLEN MELOY was a native of the West and lived in California, Montana, and Utah. Her book Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild (2005) was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for nonfiction. The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky (2002) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Utah Book Award and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award in the adventure and travel category. She is also the author of Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River (1994) and The Last Cheater’s Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest (2001). Meloy spent most of her life in wild, remote places; at the time of her sudden death in November 2004 (three months after completing Eating Stone), she and her husband were living in southern Utah.  


STEPHEN STROM spent his professional career as an astronomer. Born in New York City, he graduated from Harvard College in 1962. In 1964 he received his Masters and PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University. Stephen began photographing in 1978. His work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and is held in several permanent collections including the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His photography complements poems and essays in three books from the University of Arizona Press:  Secrets from the Center of the World, with Muscogee poet Joy Harjo; Sonoita Plain, with ecologists Jane and Carl Bock; Tseyi (Deep in the Rock): Reflections on Canyon de Chelly, with Navajo poet Laura Tohe. Death Valley: Painted Light with poet Alison Deming was published in 2016.


“Funny, wry, steeped in nature and as sharp as the needles on a pinyon pine, these essays will make you rethink your view of the American West. Meloy’s wise and unexpected observations are a pure delight.”


"Meloy’s nonfiction sparkles, taunts, and ensnares the reader with her incisive humor and stunning depictions of desert landscapes and wildlife."

“Ellen Meloy has been called one of the great writers of the American desert. She was a naturalist . . . deeply curious about the world and our place in it. But there was nothing stuffy about her Pulitzer-prize nominated writing. Meloy was funny, and she used that humor to welcome you into wild places.”


“Ellen Meloy just might be my favorite Utah writer. She’s smart and witty. She’s laugh-out-loud funny. She’s self-deprecatory and never preachy. She always gets her natural history right.”

—STEPHEN TRIMBLE, editor of Red Rock Stories


SEASONS: Desert Sketches by Ellen Meloy

Ellen Meloy wrote and recorded a series of audio essays for KUER, NPR Utah in the 1990s. Every few months, she would travel to their Salt Lake City studios from her red rock home of Bluff to read an essay or two. With understated humor and sharp insight, Meloy would illuminate facets of human connection to nature and challenge listeners to examine the world anew. Seasons: Desert Sketches is a compilation of these essays, transcribed from their original cassette tape recordings. Whether Meloy is pondering geese in Desolation Canyon or people at the local post office, readers will delight in her signature wit and charm—and feel the pull of the desert she loves and defends.


"This cinematically vivid collection feeds both intellect and soul, and shows that Meloy possessed the brevity and vision of a poet, and the coy sass of an understated comedian."

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