Desert America

Boom and Bust in the (New) New West
Desert America: Boom and Bust in the (New) New West. Metropolitan: Holt. Aug. 2012. c.352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780805079777. $28. SOC SCI
Here, Martínez's journalistic background shines as he weaves together stories about the people and the landscape of the American Southwest. His journeys over the course of a decade living in locations from Verlarde, NM, to Marfa, TX, compelled him, a native Californian from Los Angeles, to confront the realities around him. Martínez (Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature & Writing, Loyola Marymount Univ.; Crossing Over) is forced to leave his original dreamy notions of the Southwestern desert behind as he writes about how living conditions for many in the Southwestern desert is a kind of poverty not known in America's bigger cities, with extremes of wealth and destitution, landscape beauty and ruin. At each place he lives and calls home in the Southwest, he is usually seen as an outsider by the locals. It is with that paradox in mind that he, the perceived outsider, captures and interprets the stories that make up this book. He also writes of the many dangers that migrants crossing from Mexico to the United States face.
VERDICT Recommended for a general audience interested in the American Southwest or who are fans of memoir.
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