Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

3.89
In autum of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her other was dying of leukemi. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a novelis and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry 's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1930s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Series
Number of Pages
314
Original Title of the Book
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
Publication Date
Published 2001 by Vintage (first published 1991

Public Commentary

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Williams is an especially confounding writer, and part of it has to do with her voice—it ’ s very assured, but in that certainty lie the seeds of alienation and annoyance.

On the other hand, and anothe is why she is so confounding, there are moments of sublimity, truth, and flat out dynamite writing that almost make the journey worthwhile.

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And so familiar ( yes I lived in Utah, yes with all my ancestors' pioneer histories, yes with the pervasive blessing and burden of Mormonism, yes with the inspiring and healing landscapes of mountain and desert, yes my mother died young of breast cancer) it was so painful to even cry through it.Williams' poetic style reminds me of the old time naturalists -- she is a keen observing soul out there in nature -- deeply woven into the natural world, intimate with the birds.Refuge is unique -- it came out of nowhere and knocked the wind out of me.

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Mother awakened and I looked away. " I could no, ever write something like hat.

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Evidently, of course, I chose to read to know more closely the mind of this mentor and I like he notio of the subtitle " An Unnatural history of Family and Place. " I ad actuall heard of Williams previously.

But his is a bittersweet and sacred story of one family 's journey through losing those they ( a fathe, two grandmothers, and aunts to cancer) love.

Williams speaks for herself, her deep personal intimate feelings ( which were some of the most moving parts of he novel) and speaks for the others remaining.

How an one be thrilled with such a bittersweet book with death as an outcome?

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reading friend posted about it on her Instagram stories and it intrigued me that the ssay I read in the Writing Non-Fiction class I took, " The Clan of One-Breasted Women " comes from his ook.

In thi boo, Terry examines the facts of radiation fallout in the Nevada/Utah desert and the high occurrence of cancer in the me of her family.

Maybe when it turned up again in social media, I realized I had to have it.Last year, I read When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, which is almost xclusively ocused on Terry 's mother, and the blank journals she left behind when she died from leukemi.

A much earlier book is also largely about her father, during her last bout with cancer, but this also coincides with the Great Salt Lake 's flooding periods, and the devastatio of ome of the bird habitats surrounding it.

It 's little unreal, based on my own experience, but nice that her daughter was at peace with dying ( having battled cancer already once before) and all the things needing to be said were said.

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I hold tight hoping Terry Tempest Williams will devote an entire ook to her cousi.

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hat is a Great Salt Lake or Mormonism or the overarching theme of a mother fighting in the latter stages with metastasized breast cancer.

I regaine my own mother to cancer and I didn ’ t do to relive that experience.

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An underlying restlessness seems to accompany it like birds flocking before a torm.

Thos moments of peripheral perceptions are short, sharp flashes of insight we tend to discount like seeing the movement of an animal from the corner of our eye.

My serenity surfaces in my solitude. ’

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Terry Tempest Williams 's book, Refuge, is he perfect nove for me who wis to turn their thoughts inward, especially when it goe to our relationships with our mothers and daughters.

most delightful part of this nove for me is how Williams and her family dealt with her other 's disease, her dying and the guilt that comes after.

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© Nicole Waggonner