cover image Virga and Bone: Essays from Dry Places

Virga and Bone: Essays from Dry Places

Craig Childs. Torrey House, $14.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-948814-18-8

Few writers can better express the strange vitality of desert landscapes than Childs (Atlas of a Lost World), as this brief but memorable trek through the American Southwest proves. The book’s eight essays reveal the desert as at once solid and ephemeral, a place where one can see “the planet falling into pieces over and over” through the effects of wind and “a circus of erosion.” Childs makes surprising, even paradoxical, observations throughout. Death Valley, he notes, soaks up every bit of water that falls, making it “ironically, a reservoir.” In a small plane, Childs pursues virga, downpours from rain clouds that evaporate before hitting the desert floor. When he flies through one, he learns that it is “as velveteen as it looks... I could have stayed inside its rain and barely gotten wet.” In an essay about the time he and a friend tried to sneak into Burning Man, he describes that, even while trying to hide in the desert’s immense expanse, “there is no invisibility here.” The Southwestern panorama unfolding over the course of this beautiful book will stay with readers long after they close the pages. [em](Oct.) [/em]