The Redemption of Narrative: Terry Tempest Williams and Her Vision of the West
Author and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams argues that a lack of connection to the land is the direct result of our failure to care intimately about one another. From PIECES OF WHITE SHELL: A JOURNEY TO NAVAJOLAND (1984) to WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS: FIFTY-FOUR VARIATIONS ON VOICE (2012), her writing is born in the red-hot fires of contradiction. A Mormon and a believer in the power of women, an activist and a solitary writer, a student of science and a woman of faith, Williams celebrates paradox and lives both on the page and in the world. The first monograph to explore Williams's impressive and expanding literary canon, THE REDEMPTION OF NARRATIVE is divided into two sections. Part 1 compares Williams and poet and essayist Thomas Stearns Eliot, who share a personal belief system and a longing to find order and stability through language. Their respect for nature, their awareness of the divine in the natural world, and their deeply spiritual sensibility permeate their writing. In fact, Eliot and Williams follow a similar pathway toward personal epiphany and articulate their commitment to humankind in their art. Part 2 explores two of the literary communities to which Williams belongs, first, writers of creative nonfiction and literary journalism, and second, animal activists who advocate both for living things and for the planet that sustains them. The complex symbolic systems that heighten one's empathy with wildlife and encourage activism on behalf of the earth are at the heart of the study, which addresses recurring themes in Williams's work, including allegory, regionalism, reconciliation, spirituality, and a search for meaning.