Williams explores the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear. She wrangles with the paradox of desert lands and the truth of erosion: What is weathered, worn, and whittled away through wind, water, and time is as powerful as what remains.
It is in this spacious, all-encompassing spirit that Terry Tempest Williams imagines erosion in her new book, as a process that also weathers the body, mind and spirit ... Williams makes a poignant connection between the political and the personal ... Williams has woven together several kinds of trauma, evoking the precise weft many of us are living under these days ... If Williams’s haunting, powerful and brave book can be summed up in one line of advice it would be this: try to stare down the grief of everyday life, speak out and find solace in the boundless beauty of nature.
An apostle of life and earth and a soul-revving teller of true stories, Williams brings lyricism, candor, mystery, and factual exactitude to the deeply affecting essays collected here ... [Williams] traces the nexus between beauty and spirit and explains lucidly and passionately why it’s essential for humanity to conserve nature on our warming planet ... Williams reports on enlightening forays in the Arctic, Galápagos Islands, Rwanda, and China, and shares, with profound resonance, her brother’s suicide and the harsh consequences of her and her husband’s protest purchase of oil and gas leases. Williams takes readers far beyond the expected, illuminates unforeseen connections, and rejects despair, embracing, instead, attentiveness and action ... Williams’ exquisite testimony of wonder and wisdom is vitalizing and crucial.
Those familiar with Williams’ previous work know that one of her strengths is her ability to write about the minute specifics of a particular ecosystem while conveying universal truths about the human condition. And while a significant number of these essays are about the environmental damage that is the direct result of political decisions, she also writes here about the ways in which individual lives wear away ... weaves together personal experiences with the larger world in order to produce shattering emotional truths ... [Williams] create[s] something permanent and beautiful in the face of wanton destruction.