A mostly plainspoken but stiff and erratic novella--from a writer known principally for his non-fiction meditations on the Southwest and librarianship. Prof. Carl Graham, 70-ish guru of historical geography (especially the Colorado River border between Arizona and California), agrees to be interviewed at length by 35-ish grad-student Claudia Carter.' And so the two flirt, grow fond, and chat back and forth, mostly about the River and what it's meant in Graham's life. . . till one snowbound weekend when he tells her the story of his dark, doomed relationship some years back with gorgeous Finnish/Hispano archaeologist Pipa Aalto. This was a stormy love-match shadowed not only by Pipa's compulsive promiscuity but by Graham's marriage, the witchy doings of Pipa's bruja mother, and the practical/mystical issue of dams on the Colorado River. (Pipa is a comely spokesperson for the Arizona governor on topological matters, California-born Graham is the son of a late, great dam builder.) This river barrier cripples and warps their love--""We should have kept the river between us. First you take our water, now you take our work""--and there's a melodramatic suicide finale. The dialogue between the prof and his adoring grad-student is generally fine and brisk, but the flashback-format is awkward; and the river/romance talk eventually becomes more pretentious than resonant: ""You're the only I've been waiting for all my life, the one who is giving voice to the river and the crossing."" Special interest for residents and students of the Arizona/California border area; otherwise--intermittently intriguing, ultimately uninvolving.