elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

The Inside Reader: Sarah Black

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
When I approached the Gay Romance genre, there were not so many authors around, and Sarah Black was one of them. She was "different" from her fellow authors since her stories were not "simple", most of the time very dramatic, and not that type of drama that finds an happily ever after resolution at the end of the book to alleviate the heartache of the reader. But her stories were true, and so difficult to forget. Lately she seems to have take a break, but she is ready to come back now. So welcome to Sarah Black!

Sarah Black's Inside Reader List

Some of my favorite reads from the American West

When I first moved out west, I spent some time roaming around in the borderlands with Mexico, and I lived six years on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. The last few years I´ve been in the Northern Rockies. Whenever I move to a new place, I always read as much of the regional literature as I can get my hands on, to really get a feel for the places. I especially love these writers and books from the American West:

From the Borderlands

1) Dagoberto Gilb, Woodcuts of Women, The Magic of Blood, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna. I am a huge fan of his writing. He writes with such strong and original voices.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (June 4, 1994)
Publisher Link: http://www.groveatlantic.com/#page=isbn9780802133991%20
ISBN-10: 0802133991
ISBN-13: 978-0802133991
Amazon: The Magic of Blood

Dagoberto Gilb is a powerful and important new talent in American fiction. Fresh, funny, relentless, beautifully crafted, his writing possesses that rare Chekhovian ability to perfectly capture the nuances of ordinary life—and make it resonate with unexpected meaning. The Magic of Blood is his unforgettable first book.

2) Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands. Smart and tough and beautiful. An original warrior princess.

Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Aunt Lute Books; 2 edition (May 15, 1999)
Publisher Link: http://www.auntlute.com/borderlands_lafrontera.htm
ISBN-10: 1879960567
ISBN-13: 978-1879960565
Amazon: Borderlands

Chosen one of the "Best Books of 1987" by Library Journal. Selected by Utne Reader as part of its “Alternative Canon” in 1998. One of Hungry Mind Review's "Best 100 Books of the 20th Century". Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa’s experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist, and a writer, the groundbreaking essays and poems in this volume profoundly challenge how we think about identity. Borderlands/La Frontera remaps understandings of what a “border” is, seeing it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us. New to this edition: Includes an Introduction by Sonia Saldívar-Hull; an interview with Gloria Anzaldúa; and contributions by Norma Alarcón, Julia Alvarez, Paola Bacchetta, Rusty Barcelo, Norma Elia Cantú, Sandra Cisneros, T. Jackie Cuevas, Claire Joysmith, and AnaLouise Keating.

From the Southwest

3) Hampton Sides, Blood and Thunder. This is a great history, though not told from the Navajo side of the tale.

Paperback: 624 pages
Publisher: Anchor (October 9, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400031108
ISBN-10: 1400031109
ISBN-13: 978-1400031108
Amazon: Blood and Thunder

In the summer of 1846, the Army of the West marched through Santa Fe, en route to invade and occupy the Western territories claimed by Mexico. Fueled by the new ideology of “Manifest Destiny,” this land grab would lead to a decades-long battle between the United States and the Navajos, the fiercely resistant rulers of a huge swath of mountainous desert wilderness. In Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides gives us a magnificent history of the American conquest of the West. At the center of this sweeping tale is Kit Carson, the trapper, scout, and soldier whose adventures made him a legend. Sides shows us how this illiterate mountain man understood and respected the Western tribes better than any other American, yet willingly followed orders that would ultimately devastate the Navajo nation. Rich in detail and spanning more than three decades, this is an essential addition to our understanding of how the West was really won.

4) Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire. I love this book, when he was just a man in love with the land. The land around the Four Corners- it breathes and pulses with life. So strange and beautiful, I feel like the land has made an impression on my heart that is unalterable.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (January 15, 1990)
ISBN-10: 0671695886
ISBN-13: 978-0671695880
Amazon: Desert Solitaire

When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form -- the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry. Abbey's observations and challenges remain as relevant now as the day he wrote them. Today, Desert Solitaire asks if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.

Memoirs From the Northern Rockies

5) It snows so much up here, people have time to write, and read. Mark Spragg, Where Rivers Change Direction. Hands down favorite memoir. Some of the most gorgeous writing I´ve ever read.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Trade (August 8, 2000)
Publisher Link: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781573228251,00.html
ISBN-10: 1573228257
ISBN-13: 978-1573228251
Amazon: Where Rivers Change Direction

It is a voice that echoes off canyon walls, springs from the rush of rivers, thunders from the hooves of horses. It belongs to award-winner Mark Spragg, and it's as passionate and umcompromising as the wilderness in which he was born: the largest block of unfenced wilderness in the lower forty-eight states. Where Rivers Change Direction is the story of a boyhood spent on the oldest dude ranch in Wyoming--with a family struggling against the elements and against themselves, and with the wry and wise cowboy who taught him life's most important lessons. As the young Spragg undergoes the inexorable rites of passage that forge the heart and soul of man, this unforgettable memoir illuminates the heartfelt yearnings, the unexpected wisdom, and the irrevocable truths that follow in his wake...

6) John Rember, Traplines. I´m in love with Stanley, Idaho. He makes me feel homesick for a place I´ve never lived.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Vintage (December 7, 2004)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400031115
ISBN-10: 1400031117
ISBN-13: 978-1400031115
Amazon: Traplines

In 1987, John Rember returned home to Sawtooth Valley, where he had been brought up. He returned out of a homing instinct: the same forty acres that had sustained his family’s horses had sustained a vision of a place where he belonged in the world, a life where he could get up in the morning, step out the door, and catch dinner from the Salmon River. But to his surprise, he found that what was once familiar was now unfamiliar. Everything might have looked the same to the horses that spring, but to Rember this was no longer home. In Traplines, Rember recounts his experiences of growing up in a time when the fish were wild in the rivers, horses were brought into the valley each spring from their winter pasture, and electric light still seemed magical. Today those same experiences no longer seem to possess the authenticity they once did. In his journey home, Rember discovers how the West, both as a place in which to live and as a terrain of the imagination, has been transformed. And he wonders whether his recollections of what once was prevent him from understanding his past and appreciating what he found when he returned home. In Traplines, Rember excavates the hidden desires that color memory and shows us how, once revealed, they can allow us to understand anew the stories we tell ourselves.

7) William Kittredge, Hole in the Sky. His land, and his stories, are built on heartache and sorrow.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Vintage (June 1, 1993)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679740063
ISBN-10: 0679740066
ISBN-13: 978-0679740063
Amazon: Hole in the Sky

William Kittredge's stunning memoir is at once autobiography, a family chronicle, and a Westerner's settling of accounts with the land he grew up in. This is the story of a grandfather whose single-minded hunger for property won him a ranch the size of Delaware but estranged him from his family; of a father who farmed with tractors and drainage ditches but consorted with movie stars; and of Kittredge himself, who was raised by cowboys and saw them become obsolete, who floundered through three marriages, hard drinking, and madness before becoming a writer. Host hauntingly, Hole in the Sky is an honest reckoning of the American myth that drove generations of Americans westward -- and what became of their dream after they reached the edge.

8) Pete Fromm, Indian Creek Chronicles. Sometimes I re-read these memoirs when I have a strong craving for solitude.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Picador (October 1, 2003)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/indiancreekchronicles
ISBN-10: 0312422725
ISBN-13: 978-0312422721
Amazon: Indian Creek Chronicles

Winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award, Indian Creek Chronicles is Pete Fromm’s account of seven winter months spent alone in a tent in Idaho guarding salmon eggs and coming face to face with the blunt realities of life as a contemporary mountain man. A gripping story of adventure and a modern-day Walden, this contemporary classic established Fromm as one of the West’s premier voices.

Fiction from the Ladies

9 & 10) Claire Davis, Labors of the Heart, Winter Range & Kim Barnes, Finding Caruso. What I love about both of these writers is the way they look right into the heart of the world, and then write the truth they see.

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (October 5, 2001)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/winterrange
ISBN-10: 031228425X
ISBN-13: 978-0312284251
Amazon: Winter Range

Winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for Best First Novel and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for Best Novel. In Winter Range, the intimate details of ranching and small-town life are woven into the suspenseful story of three people struggling to survive, to belong, and to love in the chillingly bleak landscape of eastern Montana. Ike Parsons is a small-town sheriff whose life is stable and content; his wife Pattiann is a rancher’s daughter with a secret past. But when Ike tries to help a hard-luck cattleman named Chas Stubblefield, he triggers Chas’s resentment and finds his home and his wife targeted by a plot for revenge.

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (January 6, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0425193934
ISBN-13: 978-0425193938
Amazon: Finding Caruso

When Buddy and Lee Hope find themselves orphaned and broke in 1957, the brothers set off for the logging camps of northern Idaho. Though seven years apart, the young men are very close-that is, until Lee, the older of the two, falls hard for an older woman. But this experienced lover has someone else in mind: Buddy.

About Sarah Black: Sarah likes to drive around on empty, red-dirt roads on the Navajo reservation in a beat-up blue Ford Ranger pickup. Unfortunately, she still doesn't know how to change a flat tire.

Every Christmas, Sarah tries to make her grandmother's fudge recipe, the one on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box. So far no luck. This year she's going to break down and buy a candy thermometer.

Sarah has a secret addiction to reading books from Mother Earth News about building your own house. Right now she is reading about Cordwood and Cob.

Sarah will use any excuse to buy cashmere sweaters from Land's End. She has even been known to do it without an excuse

When she was young, Sarah wanted to marry Barnabas Collins, the vampire from Dark Shadows

Life goal: To visit all of America's National Parks

Sarah has lived in: California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, and Alaska. Also Italy, and one year in the Persian Gulf on the Hospital Ship USNS Comfort.

First pet: Janet, a red-eared turtle the size of a quarter. During a hurricane evacuation in 1968, Sarah's father carried Janet in his pocket wrapped in a damp washcloth, inside a plastic bag.

Sarah has a secret crush on Brett Favre, and believes that he redeems the sins of the rest of the NFL. He is one of the few remaining quarterbacks playing who is not young enough to be her son.

When she can't sleep, Sarah gets up and reads a random selection from the Oxford English Dictionary. Sometimes those words show up in her stories.

Footsteps in the Dark, Partners in Crime #3, by Josh Lanyon & Sarah Black
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (June 26, 2008)
Publisher Link: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=PIC00003
ISBN-10: 1934531154
ISBN-13: 978-1934531150
Amazon: Footsteps in the Dark

Murder At Black Dog Springs: Code-talker Logan Kee returns to his home on the Navajo Reservation from the battlefields of Saipan. But a new battle is waiting for him. Uranium mining has begun within the four sacred mountains. When the old hand-trembler dies at Black Dog Springs, rumors fly that Leetso, the yellow monster, has been set free to walk the land.
Tags: author: clare davis, author: dagoberto gilb, author: edward abbey, author: hampton sides, author: john rember, author: kim barnes, author: mark spragg, author: pete fromm, author: sarah black, author: william kittredge, essayist: gloria anzaldua, the inside reader

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