ALN logo; link to Arid Lands Newsletter home page No. 50, November/December 2001
The Deserts in Literature, II

Selected resources of interest

Compiled by Katherine Waser


The literature of nature: An international sourcebook. Edited by Patrick D. Murphy.
Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998. ISBN: 1-57958-010-6 (cloth). USD $95.00.
Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers
919 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 760
Chicago, Illinois 60611
For contact information in other countries, see
Web page:

To quote the well-spoken editor of this volume, "Literature and nature have been intimately interlinked in the long history of literary production throughout the world, especially when oral as well as textual forms of literature are taken into account....[yet] While one might say that nature has always permeated literature, it has done so in varying degrees and has been critically received in vastly divergent ways." As a subject of critical and educational focus the literature of nature was long neglected, eventually coming into more prominence as the subject of "...a growing field of what has come to be called ecological literary criticism, or ecocriticism for short." At this point, the "evolution of ecocriticism requires the development of a truly international perspective on the field of literary representations of nature....[this book] is one of the first steps in that direction."

This is indeed precisely what it claims to be: a sourcebook that, while not claiming or even intending to be comprehensive, provides an exciting multiplicity of starting points for exploring what nature writing is and means around the world. While the bulk of the articles concern the United States and Canada (partly because ecocriticism is more developed there), the editor has made every effort to include "as diverse a representation [as possible] not only of national literatures but also of critical approaches to those literatures." Several of the articles pertain directly to drylands, but readers would be cheating themselves if they did not also read at least a sampling of the other articles included. Almost all articles include lists of suggestions for further reading, some quite extensive. This sourcebook will be a welcome and useful resource indeed for anyone interested in exploring global examples of the literature of nature.

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The following two books are available from:
The University of Arizona Press
355 S. Euclid Ave., Suite 103
Tucson, AZ 85719
Tel.: +1 (520) 621-1441
Fax: +1 (520) 621-8899

Getting over the color green: Contemporary environmental literature of the Southwest, edited by Scott Slovic.
University of Arizona Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8165-1664-2 (cloth), 0-8165-1665-0 (pbk). USD $45 cloth, $19.95 paperback.

This anthology aims "not to be encyclopedic and exhaustive but to provide a stimulating sample of the literary explorations of southwestern places that have appeared since 1990." It meets this purpose admirably, including not just nonfiction but also poems and fiction from more than half a dozen states representing the US Southwest.

The writings chosen for this volume are arranged into four sections, focused respectively on descriptions of natural history; tales of adventure in the wild; accounts of lives lived close to the land; and calls, both direct and indirect, for conservation, awareness, stewardship and respect for the land. Each section includes selections from at least a dozen authors; no one author is represented in more than one section. Thus, at least 50 individual voices are heard in this anthology, providing the reader with a rich menu of choices. A list of suggested additional readings is also included.

The title of this anthology is taken from Wallace Stegner: "You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawn; you have to get used to an inhuman scale; you have to understand geological time." (Thoughts in a dry land, 1972). This anthology will appeal to readers who are working towards making, or have already made, such shifts in perception and understanding.

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Desert Indian woman: Stories and dreams, by Frances Manuel and Deborah Neff. University of Arizona Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8165-2007-0 (cloth), 0-8165-2008-9 (pbk). USD $39.95 cloth, $17.95 paper.

Frances Manuel is a Tohono O'odham woman who has lived her life in southern Arizona; Deborah Neff, an Anglo woman, is her longtime friend who taped or wrote down the many stories and interviews that comprise this book. Frances narrates the account in her own words and her own rhythms, linking together dreams, tales and legends with the details of her everyday life. Her manner of relating her story reveals a deep connectedness and sense of place that speaks as much of Tohono O'odham cultural awareness and sensibilities as of her individual experience. The result is a fascinating and entirely individual history that, at the same time, has much to teach the reader about Tohono O'odham society, history, and attitudes, and about life on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands during a time of drastic change.

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Priorities of research for development of arid regions, edited by S.K. Verma, N.M. Nahar, R. Raj-Ghansali, S.K. Jindal and Satya Vir. Jodhpur, India: Scientific Publishers, 2001. ISBN: 81-78233-259-9. (Price not given).
Scientific Publishers (India)
5-A, New Pali Road, P.B. No. 91
Jodhpur 342 001
Fax +91-291-512580

While specifically aimed at arid northwestern India, this book poses a question pertinent to all developing agrarian nations: how can such nations continue to maximize the productivity of their drylands without further eroding the resource base? It then poses the answer "by carrying out meticulous research and development planning," explained in the form of 20 articles laying out research priorities for agriculture, animal husbandry, environmental conservation and biodiversity, and developmental planning. The potential for mineral development is also included as a useful component of a primarily agriculture-based development strategy. Finally, the human element is recognized as the irreducible base on which the success or failure of any strategy rests: extension education, training, teambuilding and a community approach are stressed.

This book is pertinent for anyone directly involved or otherwise interested in research and development planning for arid zone development in India.

* * *

The following two publications are available from:
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Publications
1801 Alexander Bell Dr.
Reston, VA 20191

Comprehensive Transboundary International Water Quality Management Agreement, EWRI/ASCE 33-01 (ASCE Standard 33-01). American Society of Civil Engineers 2001. ISBN: 0-7844-0543-3 (pbk.) USD $65.00 / Members $48.75 / International List $78.00 / Members $58.50.

This Agreement was written to provide a model for comprehensive water quality planning and management of shared water resources. It is based on the concept of shared sovereignty and thus is appropriate in situations where Parties agree to relinquish some degree of control over their portion of the shared resource. It also presents a comprehensive management approach, as established in numerous recent international agreements. Intended to be flexible enough for international use in a variety of geopolitical settings, this Agreement covers most aspects of water planning management from administration to water quality and allocation to dispute resolution. Extensive commentary on each section of the Agreement clarifies why the section is important, provides suggestions on how it might be adapted for specific use, and lists pertinent references. Cross-references to other relevant sections of the agreement are also provided.

The objective of this resource is to allow users to achieve water allocation based on equitable utilization. As such it will be useful to any group of Parties who have this goal in mind.

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Standard guidelines for artificial recharge of ground water, EWRI/ASCE 34-01 (EWRI/ASCE Standard No. 34-01). American Society of Civil Engineers 2001. ISBN: 0-7844-0548-4 (pbk). USD $65.00 / Members $48.75 / International List $78.00 / Members $58.50

These guidelines "describe the steps necessary to plan, design, construct, maintain, operate and close a project for artificial recharge of ground water. They also describe the economic, environmental, and legal considerations, including water rights, laws, and regulations, as well as field investigation and testing procedures that may apply to all the preceding steps. The recharge may be accomplished either by applying water to the ground surface for infiltration or by placing it directly into aquifers through wells. These guidelines cover situations that may occur in many different types of projects and can be applied to basic or small projects by selecting the portions of these guidelines that are appropriate to the proposed project." Although primarily focused on the United States, the material also refers to numerous examples from around the world and contains much valuable information that can be equally broadly applied.

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