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OUTSIDE by Barry Lopez Kirkus Star

OUTSIDE

by Barry Lopez, illustrated by Barry Moser

Pub Date: March 18th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59534-189-1
Publisher: Trinity University Press

A new edition of six previously published stories by Lopez, with engravings by Moser.

Lopez's fiction, like his nonfiction, is steeped in the natural world. “Desert Notes,” the first story in the collection, focuses on the elemental and largely silent world of the Mojave Desert. There’s no plot to speak of—just a narrator calling our close attention to a series of natural images. The main character in the second story, “Twilight,” is a pattern rug woven by Ahlnsaha, a Navajo woman, in 1934. We follow the ownership of this rug as it’s transferred from character to character—one gives it to his wife as a wedding present, another wants to make a profit from it, and still another donates it to the Catholic Church. Eventually the narrator acquires it from an antiques dealer, along with its mythic accretions—he’s told that “the rug has been woven by a Comanche who learned his craft from a Navajo [and] that she bought it on the reservation in Oklahoma.” Throughout “The Search for the Heron,” the narrator addresses a heron with poetic ardor: “Your sigh, I am told, is like the sound of rain driven against tower bells. You smell like wild ginger.” The other stories also feature the natural world prominently, as Lopez endows his landscape with light and lyricism. Moser's art adds greatly to the experience of reading these stories, capturing the passionate intensity of Lopez’s prose.

A stunning volume to be savored in a quiet, reflective mood.