Books: “The Source of All Things” and “The Museum Collection”

“The Source of All Things” by Tracy Ross

Tracy Ross mastered the sense of place a long time ago, putting the reader squarely in her own boots and scaling to the Edge of Nowhere, never looking back. A journalist who has scoured the planet and a contributing editor to Backpacker Magazine, Ross has the makings of a writer’s writer. In “The Source of All Things,” Ross ventures inward this time, to a place of soul and guts and torn-away pieces of childhood. The memoir, first trotted out as the Backpacker essay that won the National Magazine Award in 2009, weaves her story of sexual abuse in the hands of her stepfather. Bouncing from ditch to ditch emotionally, Ross finds her way by calling on the healing power of wild places. Witnessing the jagged cycle of seeking and self-destruction that takes her through adolescence and into her young adult life, a reader has to wonder if communion with the trees and rivers and dirt under her feet will be enough to buoy the soul. In the end, she asks her stepfather to accompany her to the place where it all started when she was eight years old. There in the wilds of Idaho she confronts him, tape recorder running, and he talks to his 36-year-old daughter. There’s no overnight redemption here, no black-and-white forgiveness. But somehow, Ross manages to humanize the man who stole her nights. And somewhere there is the word “reconcile.” What you’ve got is a compelling and gutsy piece of writing and a story of surviving and moving on. I’ll join the legions of reviewers here: This is a story you won’t easily forget. $23.95, simonandschuster.com
— Tara Flanagan

“The Museum Collection,” by William Meriwether

Bill Meriwether died in spring 2010, after a 40-year career as a photographer and professor of photography at various Western universities, and just before an exhibit of his photography opened at the Colorado Mountain College Gallery in Glenwood Springs. He made stark black-and-white, Ansel Adams-esque photographs of missions, ruins and landscapes of Colorado and northern New Mexico, and originally self-published this book in 2005 as a handmade, limited edition, for his friends. People’s Press of Woody Creek (a project of MG guardian angel emeritus George Stranahan) is now publishing it as a 52-page hardcover edition. The Museum Collection is not quite a coffee-table photography book, with a smaller format with as much attention paid to Meriwether’s photos as his essays — sometimes explaining the technical how-to of his photos, sometimes discussing photography philosophy or the process of making platinum prints. It’s a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any student, or armchair aficionado, of classic Western photography. $14.95, peoplespress.org

9 thoughts on “Books: “The Source of All Things” and “The Museum Collection””

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