Point Last Seen

Hannah Nyala, Author, Nyala, Author Beacon Press (MA) $21 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7092-5
A young woman from backwoods Mississippi escapes a vicious husband, moves to the desert to ease her grief and draws on hunting skills fostered by her Sioux Indian grandmother to earn a living as a search-and-rescue tracker for the National Park Service. On the surface, Nyala's tale is timely and intriging, but she fails to deliver the insights and commentary that would have given it dimension and resonance. To Nyala, tracking serves many purposes: While tracking in nature is a form of meditation for Nyala, it is also how she earns a living. When she leaves the desert to study anthropology in the city, her knowledge of tracking, which has taught her to carefully observe human behavior, helps create intimate relationships with her colleagues. Although the descriptions of the minutiae of nature with which she divines her trails are pleasing, Nyala's choice of words, images and personifications are often perplexing. Describing a desert rainfall, she writes, ""When it started to sprinkle today, time seems to merge itself with the aridity lapsing momentarily beneath the storm, and both tiptoed off somewhere on the horizon to wait this one out."" She also has trouble articulating how tracking can become a means of understanding human nature. It is clear, nonetheless, that this homespun skill taught by her grandmother has saved Nyala's spirit. This is a book that would have benefited from a professional coauthor, but even so it expresses clearly enough the resourcefulness with which Nyala has rebuilt her life--a resourcefulness that may inspire hope in others, especially women who feel trapped in desperate situations. Major ad/promo. (June)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-7434-5755-2
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-8070-8536-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57453-230-2
Paperback - 48 pages - 978-0-14-027463-9
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