Quick Question

Hi Nolan, Dave, Carey and Peggy,

I have a quick question. I am in a ‘good book drought’ and just thought I would ask if any of you could recommend any novels (or non fiction) that are set in New Mexico? Would love to soak up more about the place.

Thanks for any suggestions

10 thoughts on “Quick Question

  1. Whoa, don’t read many novels about NM…but Tony Hillerman (if you like mystery stuff) is a NM author. I have a couple of fine ones about Wisconsin small town….DRIFTLESS then JEWELWEED by David Rhodes….two of the finest novels I’ve read in years. Another excellent non fiction book I’ve read recently is: THE TIGER…a true story about a man eating one in Siberia. So foreign (the area) and the people and tiger …. fascinating. Pictures, too. Heard a review on PBS when it came out a couple of years ago and bought it. Also, if you have never read SEABISQUIT by Laura Hilderbrand….a MUST. The horse, Seabisquit took a bite out of my father in law’s arm once. haha. If you’ve read the book, it follows.
    Willa Cather’s books on NM are nice.

  2. I first read Tony Hillerman in North Carolina, years before I dreamed of moving to NM and many more in Washington, DC after I dreamt. Definitely not “our” New Mexico here in the South, but highly recommended. You can read a few of these in series if you ever fly over from Australia.

    Historical: No Place for a Lady. “When Agnes Morley Cleaveland was born on a New Mexico cattle ranch in 1874, the term “Wild West” was a reality, not a cliché. In those days cowboys didn’t know they were picturesque, horse rustlers were to be handled as seemed best on the occasion, and young ladies thought nothing of punching cows and hunting grizzlies in between school terms.”

    My Mother in Law, the other Peggy is a prolific reader. She suggests the authors Michael McGarrity and Rudolfo Anaya.

    Perhaps considered more of a Texas/Mexico author I have read passages in Cormack McCarthy that perfectly described parts of southern NM. Not easy reads.

    Not such good a book for travel (not available in paperback) is Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Houses: Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu. Just finished this beautiful book. Great narrative on why New Mexico captured the artist’s heart. Solid information on adobe history and construction. Beautiful and relevant reproductions of some of O’Keeffe’s paintings, loads of historical and contemporary photography. Again, focus is up north. Again, highly recommended.

    If you are into architectural and social history check out the highly readable The Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional Tradition by Chris Wilson

    If you are interested in more history / Southern NM history, I can ask around at work. If any of the books above are appealing Amazon will make many more suggestions.

    Happy reading. CC

  3. This book has been on my read list for awhile: Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West [Hardcover] Rubén Martínez (Author.) I do see some cautionary reviews that may well make some valid points. More good reviews on balance. CC

  4. Quick question, long answers.

    Some Southern New Mexico History books from the basin to our right (Just east.)

    Tularosa: Last of the Frontier West [Paperback] C. L. Sonnichsen
    “Tularosa–sun-scorched, sandblasted, merciless–the parched desert where everything, from cactus to cowman, carries a weapon of some sort, and the only creatures who sleep with both eyes closed are dead. Tularosa–the last frontier in the continental United States.”

    High Noon in Lincoln: Violence on the Western Frontier
    Robert M. Utley

    The Two Alberts: Fountain and Fall
    Gordon R. Owen

    True Crime form right here in Las Cruces:
    “Cricket in the Web: The 1949 Unsolved Murder that Unraveled Politics in New Mexico
    Ovida “Cricket” Coogler was last seen alive entering a mysterious car driven by an unknown man in downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico, around 3:00 on the morning of March 31, 1949. Seventeen days later, her body was found in a hastily dug grave near Mesquite, New Mexico. The discovery of the eighteen-year-old waitress’s body launched a series of court inquiries and trials that would reshape the direction of New Mexico politics, expose political corruption, and spawn generations of rumors that have polarized opinions of what happened to Coogler that windy March morning.

    Containing elements of mystery, conflict, power, fear, sex, and politics, the Coogler case has outlasted the brief amount of attention that most local unsolved murders receive.”


  5. Excellent replies all, thanks Trudie for the great Q.

    Trudie I have a copy of McCarthy’s ‘All the pretty horses’ here you can borrow on Thursday. He is an incredible writer, yes hard, with complicated undertone of bleakness and hope, but the landscape descriptions are amazing. That book is set in northern Mexico.

    Maybe the Bundy library is about to get a flood of orders for books from Hillerman.
    I just did a search and they have about 18 or so Hillerman titles on the shelves :-]

  6. Yes, Bless Me, Ultima.

    Mention goes to my Mother-in-Law and true-good-friend Peggy Miller.

    I asked for suggestions from the better read on this query

    In turn, what best books are set in Australia?

  7. Hmmm. Some fave historical novels, and from authors long ago, is Xavier Herbert’s ‘Capricornia’ 1938, and Patrick White’s ‘Tree of Man’ 1955. PW is usually inaccessible to me, doh doh doh doh doh (some books I’ve wanted to tear to small pieces), but the landscape in ‘Tree of Man’ is really evocative.

    Australia’s darling is Tim Winton. He’s pretty amazing, with a complete Australian voice. Probably ‘Dirt Music’ 2001, set in the Kimberley mostly (he’s a Western Australian son), is terrific for landscape and Australian essence. And his ‘Breath’ 2008 is quite a book. Set around the surfing coastline of southern WA. I’ve only ever boogie-boarded, and his descriptions of the water and the colour and sheer thrill of the surf moments makes you feel like you’ve done it! This is not a surfing book though, quite a dark understory. His book ‘Cloudstreet’ was again voted as Australians’ favourite book this year and he wrote that over 20 years ago. He’s renowned for putting a book out every 6 or 7 years, new one coming in October this year.

    And Kate Grenville is a fave too. Her ‘The idea of perfection’ 1999 is awesome. About a dying NSW country town and it’s characters. And more recently she’s more well known for a series starting with ‘The secret river’ 2005, set on the Hawksbury River NSW and with strong indigenous story throughout. Again, beautiful landscape descriptions. Her style reminds me a little of Barbara Kingsolver.

    And a fave recently is ‘Jasper Jones’ 2009 by Craig Silvey, very much a hat-tilt to ‘To kill a mockingbird’ but a great read.

    Look forward to what the other Aussies suggest too…

  8. Wow is all I can say! Thankyou all so much for the abundance of names, titles and suggestions I will definately start my googling journey now to track down some of these gems! And yes I have read McCarthy’s border Triolgy and a few of his other other books – great evocative descriptions of the lanscape. Also I will put my thinking cap on for some of my fav Australian authors. A couple of older Australian classics I have always loved are My Brother Jack by George Johnston and Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South. And agree with Adrienne that it’s difficult to go past Tim Winton, he writes beautifully. For a highly readible history of Australia’s convict settlement I would recommend David Hill’s ‘1788’. Anyway more will come to mind and I am sure I will post again.
    T x

  9. Interesting comments on Cormac McCarthy. I read All the Pretty Horses….loved the first 19 pages then felt someone else wrote the rest and he even got some details re: horses incorrect. And I listened to The Road and thought I was going to die of boredom before it was over. I reviewed it for pals: ‘The father asks his son: ‘Are you all right?’ Son: ‘yes.’ Over and over and over and over. Not my favorite writer, can you tell? hahaha

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