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Finding beauty

This column was supposed to be about books to buy for Christmas presents and reviews of a few good books. That was before I read “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” the latest book by Terry Tempest Williams.

The book first caught my eye while I was browsing through one of my favorite bookstores, of which I have many, in Moab, Utah. Having only enough money to buy one book, I chose “The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner,” edited by Page Stegner.

It was a difficult choice since both writers in my humble opinion are the best among the best.



Speaking as a writer, there is no better way to become intimately acquainted with those who practice this peculiar craft than to read their published letters, journals or diaries.

None of the three above-mentioned formats are the type of books you sit down with and read cover to cover in a short matter of time. They are works of expression which need to be digested over time.



Not having read all of “The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner,” I can’t very well give a review of it. I have read enough to say anyone who appreciates Stegner’s work or his place in Western literature will enjoy this jewel.

Back to Terry Tempest Williams.

When I returned home from my trip through Utah, I found a pleasant surprise in the mailbox. It was a gift certificate from one of my other favorite bookstores, “Through the Looking Glass.”

Need I say the gift was used to buy “Finding Beauty In a Broken World.”

For me, it was not easy to get into at first. My interest in mosaic art was most definitely not on the same level as Terry’s. I’ve done enough tile laying to know such hard work pegs out my fun meter fairly fast.

Cutting little pieces of mosaic makes me want to steal cigarettes from myself and I don’t even smoke.

I made it through the first 30-odd pages and knew my time would soon be rewarded. Prairie dogs come next. Yep, that’s right … prairie dogs. You have to love the little critters to fully appreciate their part in “finding beauty in a broken world,” and I admit there is a fond place in my heart for prairie dogs.

I had one for a pet when I was a young whippersnapper. His name was Pete, Pete the prairie dog. No, I am not making this up. Enough said, except he liked ice cream.

I’m not about to give away the part they play in this heart-rending story. They are very much part of the mosaic.

It’s hard to explain how Williams goes rather seamlessly from mosaics to prairie dogs to genocide in Rwanda. Anyone of lesser character could not pull you into such a maelstrom.

Terry’s honesty, anguish and her way of “being in a world that calls us beyond hope” will change you into a better human being, searching for beauty in a broken world.

With over 30 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories (or occasional book reviews) with readers every other week.


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