Desert Notes and River Notes by Barry Lopez

Two of Lopez’s collections of short fiction in one exhilarating and profoundly beautiful volume 
To National Book Award’“winning author Barry Lopez, the desert and the river are landscapes alive with poetry, mystery, seduction, and enchantment. In these two works of fiction, the narrator responds viscerally and emotionally to their moods and changes, their secrets and silences, and their unique power.
Desert Notes portrays the mystical power of an American desert, and the reflections it sparks in the characters who travel there. River Notes, a companion piece, celebrates the wild life forces of a river, calling readers to think deeply on identity and about the hopefulness of their onward journeys, with a lyrical collection of memories, stories, and dreams. From an evocative tale of finding a hot spring in a desert to a meditation on the thoughts and dreams of herons, Lopez offers enthralling stories that enable us to see and feel the rhythms of the wilderness. These sojourns bring readers a specific sense of the darkness, light, and resolve that we encounter within ourselves when away from home.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Barry Lopez including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

My Thoughts:

At times I wasn’t sure what I was reading about as some of the writing didn’t seem to make much sense to me. This is imaginative writing describing the sensations evoked by the desert and the river but I was disoriented between the observation of nature and obsessive and passionate intensity of imagining being in/part of the places and creatures Lopez describes.

I was never sure who the narrator was, at times an unnamed ‘I’ and then a similarly unnamed ‘he’. At times I was thinking of abandoning the book and then a passage appealed to me and I read on. I preferred the stories in River Notes, of being by the river, observing the salmon for example returning to spawn, and the  more straight-forward approach in Hanner’s Story, in which a river guide talks about the history of a community named Sheffield and the stories about the idyllic and far-fetched stories about these people. But overall I didn’t enjoy this book, and although I liked some of the descriptive writing, I was more baffled than enlightened.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7049 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (25 Jun. 2013)
  • Source: I received a free electronic copy of this collection from Netgalley, Barry Holston Lopez, and Open Road Media
  • My Rating: 1½ ˜…

One thought on “Desert Notes and River Notes by Barry Lopez

  1. Sorry to hear you were disappointed, Margaret. I know what you mean, though, about books where one’s not sure exactly what’s going on or who the narrator is. That is confusing and disorienting.


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