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THIS DESERT cover(1) 03.10.20.jpg

selections from the work of Ellen Meloy
photographs by Stephen Strom


“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


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 Lightwith poet Alison Deming was published in 2016.


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.  



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

Cover photo by Stephen Strom

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