SCIENCES

Desert Oracle

MCD. Dec. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780374139681. $27. NAT HIST
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Desert Oracle started out under the guidance of journalist Layne as a quarterly periodical collecting stories relating to the desert environment of the American Southwest. The periodical later became a radio show, podcast, and live performance, all focusing on the people and places located in the Mojave, either by accident or by design. The book version of the periodical is a field guide of sorts of the Southwest, featuring both previously published and new entries documenting life in and around the Mojave. The rugged environment attracts a certain type of outsider, and many of the essays feature desert outlaws, such as author Edward Abbey and biologist Edmund Jaeger. Cautionary tales of unprepared hikers shed further insight into the dangers of this harsh environment. UFO enthusiasts, mythical desert creatures including the Yucca Man and La Llorona, and natural history accounts of the flora and fauna found in the desert are all included in this slim volume.
VERDICT Anyone contemplating a trip to the arid Southwest or wanting to learn more about the area and its natural history should pick up this collection of varied anecdotes.

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