978-0-938216-80-3 / 9780938216803

Writing Down the River: Into the Heart of the Grand Canyon


Publisher:Grand Canyon Assn



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About the book:

Photographer Kathleen Jo Ryan first witnessed the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Grand Canyon in 1987. A year later she rafted the Colorado River into the canyon, emerging from this transforming experience with the idea for a book: "Going down the river into the heart of the canyon is adventuring into a place of spirit. I hold a warm, overwhelming feeling of gratitude, respect, and humility for having been allowed to float and play through this majestic canyon." In Writing Down the River Ryan shares her gratitude by inviting women writers to venture down the Colorado and contribute their "personal journeys." Gretel Ehrlich provides context--historical, geographic, and biographical--in the foreword, and 15 other writers join the celebration with their individual voices.

Sharman Apt Russell, author of When the Land Was Young: Reflections on American Archaeology, describes her initial peek: "My heart starts beating fast when I first see the Grand Canyon, looking down from the South Rim, the vertigo of too much space. My bones feel hollow, like a bird's bones." Annick Smith, editor of The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, writes about the roar of the rapids: "Then comes the fifth wave. We climb up and up, stroking hard, but we do not cut through. The wave grows. It's a demon curling above us. Its foaming dragon breath is distinct as a Japanese painting, alive. Now I am stroking air." Judith Freeman, author of A Desert of Pure Feeling, writes of the lingering aftereffects: "For many nights after I left the river I awoke in darkness with the feeling I was still in the canyon. I sat up suddenly in strange beds, in desert motels and distant cities, certain that I was still sleeping on a rock ledge or a spit of sand."

Ryan's photographs of rock, water, and sky round out this evocative portrait of a place unlike any in the world. Taken as a whole, Writing Down the River is a collection of personal reflections as well as a tribute to the unifying power of landscape.

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