My Book World
First of all, I love that Flores takes possession of this subject right away with the term, “Near Southwest”—a region stretching from eastern Louisiana and including all of Texas and New Mexico. I come over twenty years late to reading this elegantly scripted book about the area’s ecology, but the ideas he expresses here seem to gain urgency as time passes. Flores alternates sections of family history (French and Spanish) and other histories with first-hand accounts of living, say, on the Llano Estacado, as well as poetic and lyrical sections of fiction to bring alive said histories.
Flores is always on the move. After advanced schooling at Texas A&M, he explores, to mention a few places, the Chihuahuan desert, the Southern Plains of Texas (Llano Estacado or Steaked Plains), Abiquiu, New Mexico—finally lighting in Montana. But the Horizontal Yellow of which he speaks is the once real, now metaphorical, wave of yellowing grasses that cover what locals call, with a certain inelegance, the South Plains. It is where he builds a primitive place to live in Yellow House Canyon, about thirty minutes from where he teaches at the local university. It is where he lives with two wolf-dog hybrids as their alpha male (a role he doesn’t particularly relish; it’s the critters’ idea). It is a place remaining in his heart as he makes his home up north, where he can establish and retain a closeness to nature that the Texas South Plains has mostly expunged from its existence. His is an admired life but one I’m not sure I could pursue myself. I adore my life in town—Internet, TV, central heat and air—a bit too much.
NEXT FRIDAY: My Book World | Winston Groom's A Storm in Flanders