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The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit
ELLEN MELOY

The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit by Ellen Meloy
5 reviews (2002) (336p)
Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction Finalist

Visit this book's Amazon.com page >>


Book Description
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."


Amazon.com Review
What color is a life? Ellen Meloy looks at her place in the world and time in The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit, and her experiences outweigh her conclusions--which are, after all, only tentative. Whether musing about family history, exploring the high Utah wilderness, or diving in the Gulf of Mexico, Meloy takes in more than most with her energetic senses, and her gift for articulating the sensuous keeps the reader looking over her shoulder. Life's ugly bits are also strewn herein; turning a blind eye to nuclear test sites and border crossings would be almost sacrilegious to someone who so venerates light and vision. The Anthropology of Turquoise is perhaps best read as a nonfiction novel. Patching together pieces of memoir, travelogue, and spirit quest into a uniquely blended visionary document, Meloy finds the world in a grain of sand. --Rob Lightner


Other Award Winning Books by Ellen Meloy
Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy
5 reviews (2005) (352p) (NBCCA Non)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Ellen Meloy Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 2  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 2  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 1 The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 1 Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild ·  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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Pulitzer Prize | National Book Critics Circle Award | National Book Award | PEN/Faulkner Award | Man Booker Prize | Contact