THE MASKED BOBWHITE RIDES AGAIN by John Alcock

THE MASKED BOBWHITE RIDES AGAIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Closely observed, delicate vignettes on Arizona's desert spaces. Alcock (Zoology/Arizona State University; Sonoran Desert Summer, 1987, etc.--not reviewed) has for the past 30 years made his special patch hard by the slopes of Usery Mountain. Formally, he's there to study insects and paloverdes, but his curiosity is sweeping and his eye keen and sensitive--so, here, he takes in the greater locale and considers how one component impinges upon another: The army ant on the harvester ant, the starling on the martin, the bovine on the saguaro, the human on the desert. In prose as quiet and spare as his subject, Alcock summons some extraordinarily evocative desert imagery, as in his chapters on Paleoindians and on a dead gnat-catcher. His soul is torqued by some human presences in the desert, from the trash-happy fool to the asphalt-spreading developer, and he goes positively atomic over government-sanctioned cattle-grazing on such a fragile landscape--a policy, he says, that's led to the ruination of rare streambeds and grasslands, resulting in the killing of rare mountain lions (cattle-runners are allowed to shoot predators). Alcock goes so far as to suggest that the number of eco-saboteurs willing to directly address such problems is ``depressingly small.'' A sense of unease pervades the text, an effective counterpoint to the author's desert love song. The desert comes to life here as a glorious and enriching place. Show it some respect, Alcock advises, and it will pay you back in unimaginable ways. (Four illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8165-1387-2
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Univ. of Arizona
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993