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Looking for a good read? Southwest books recommended


February 10, 2011

For the past 34 years, the Southwest Literature Project of Pima County Public Library has published its picks for “Southwest books of the year” – and ASU’s Pat Etter helps make those choices.

Etter, a member of the Emeritus College and former director of the Labriola Center in Hayden Library, is a member of the library’s Southwest Literature Project Committee.

Etter’s favorite books for 2010 are:

• “Appetite for America: How Visionary businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West,” by Stephen Fried. Harvey changed the culture of restaurants that catered to rain travelers through his attention to food and service in what he called a “Harvey worthy environment. “This is an enjoyable and well-researched history of food and travel through the Southwest,” Etter wrote.

• “Santa Fe Nativa: A Collection of Nuevomexicano Writing,” by Rosalie C. Otero, A. Gabriel Melendez and Enrique R. Laladrid. “Here are wonderful Santa Fe stories written through the ages,” Etter said. “They celebrate the city’s 400th year and honor its contribution to the foundations of Nuevomexicano culture. More than 30 authors contributed stories in English and Spanish.”

• “The Peyote Road: Religious Freedom and the Native American Church,” by Thomas C. Maroukis. Peyote grows wild in the limestone soils of four southwest Texas counties, mainly on privately owned land. Only those who belong to the Native American Church, and who have a blood quantum not less than 25 percent, are legally allowed to use peyote as a sacrament.”

“The author’s well-written and interesting narrative includes the early history and beginnings of peyote use, how it developed into the Native American Church and the individuals important in its promotion,” Etter wrote about the book.

• “Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools, 1940-2000,” by Stephen Amerman. The Phoenix Union High School system serves the third-largest Native community in the country and was the site for this study of American Indian education in an urban environment. “The strength of this book stems from its account of the experience of 18 students from several tribes who found themselves in the minority among Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American students. Amerman discusses the emotional challenges confronting these students as they adjusted to a new educational system while working to retain a sense of cultural background and Native pride.”

• “The Wind Doesn’t Need a Passport: Stories from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands,” by Tyche Hendricks. The U.S. border with Mexico is a place where the citizens of two countries have long co-existed. It is also the epicenter of a myriad of problems concerning immigration, drugs, violence and poverty. “The Deeper cases of illegal immigration, says Hendricks, have to do with profound economic disparities. This is essential reading for any citizen concerned with border issues.”

• “Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico,” by Steven J. Carey. “Open this book at random and you can be sure to find a butterfly ready to fly right off the page. This is a winner, and one need not leave his armchair to fully enjoy a butterfly hunt.”

Etter also recommended “Hoboes, Bindlestiffs, Fruit Tramps and the Harvesting of the West,” by Mark Wyman; “A Gift of Angels: The Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac,” by Bernard L. Fontana; ‘Exploring Desert Stone: John N. Macomb’s 1859 Expedition to the Canyonlands of the Colorado,” by Steven K. Madsen.

The committee also selected five children’s books: “Cesar Chavez: A Photographic Essay,” by Ilan Stavans; “Dance of the Eggshells/Baille de los Cascarones,” by Carla Aragon, illustrated by Katy Dee Savillo; “Emily Walks the Sheep Trail,” by Cindy Shanks; “Hidden Life of the Desert,” by Thomas Wiewandt; and “The Tale of the Pronghorned Cantaloupe,” by Sandra Brown Steinsiek.

For more information about the books, go to www.library.pima.gov/books/swboy.