cover image Skywater


Melinda Worth Popham. Graywolf Press, $17.95 (205pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-127-4

A band of coyotes in the southwestern Sonora desert are an important part of the life of the Ryders, a crusty old couple who have lived simply in the desert for more than 40 years. In this captivating exploration of coyote life by an author obviously well-researched in their ways, the characters--human and animal--interact in a credible, unsentimental narrative that portrays the delicate peril of our ecological systems. In an appropriately spare, ascetic style, we encounter the Ryders, self-made isolates nearing the close of their long escape from civilization in the desert. The coyotes, who share the Ryders' drinking water until it becomes tainted by a nearby copper mine, are forced to embark upon a search for a fresh supply. The animals' arduous westward journey down the Colorado River to the Gulf suggests a coyote world view that is subtly sustained by their mysterious ways. (May)