The Anthropology of Turquoise by Ellen Meloy
Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review



Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home—not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.

—Ellen Meloy

Neurobiologists say that our sensitivity to color begins when we are infants. For artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy, who has spent most of her life in wild, remote places, an intoxication with light and color—sometimes subliminal, often fierce—has expressed itself as a profound attachment to landscape. It has been rightly said: Color is the first principle of Place.

In this luminous mix of memoir, natural history, and eccentric adventure, Meloy uses turquoise—the color and the gem—as a metaphor for a way to make sense of the world from the clues of nature. From the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave Desert, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Bahamas to her home ground on the high plateaus and in the deep canyons of the Southwest, we journey with Meloy through diverse habitats of supersensual light, through places of beauty and places of desecration. With keen vision and sharp wit she introduces us to deserts, canyons, turquoise seas, and ancestral mountains, as well as to comedian plants, psychiatrist mules, and Persians who consider turquoise the equivalent of a bulletproof vest. Meloy describes women held to the desert by sheer gravity, and she mourns the passing of her oldest neighbors, the Navajo “velvet grandmothers” whose attire and aesthetics absorb the vivid palette of their homeland. There is a swim across the Mojave, a harrowing error on a solo trip down a wild river, and a birthday party with wild sheep.

Throughout, Meloy invites us to appreciate along with her the environments, creatures, and objects that celebrate what we often take for granted: “our own spirits, the eternity of all things.”

About Ellen Meloy

See more books from this Author
Ellen Meloy received a Whiting Foundation Award in 1997. Her book Raven’s Exile: A Season on the Green River won a 1995 Western Writers of America Spur Award for contemporary nonfiction. She is also the author of The Last Cheater’s Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest. Her essays have appeared in Orion and Northern Lights, among other publications, and have been widely anthologized. She lives in southern Utah.
Published July 16, 2002 by Pantheon. 336 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Anthropology of Turquoise

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Lyrical nature essays set mostly in the American Southwest, with excursions to the tropics to escape the desert sun.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Anthropology of Turquoise...

Reader Rating for The Anthropology of Turquoise

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review