264 Slices
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10 Dead Man in Cataract and Other New Experiences, 1960-1961

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

On May 22, 1960, Albert Q. Quist of Salt Lake City was leading a two-boat, twelve-member party through Cataract Canyon. About noon, after running three rapids, one of the twenty-four-foot rafts slammed into a rock and hung up there, pitching four of the men into the river. Quist and his son, Clair, made it safely to shore about three-quarters of a mile below, but the other two men, Leon Peterson and Keith Howard Hoover, both of Provo, Utah, could not be located and were presumed to be drowned.1

Two weeks later Georgie embarked at Green River for a trip through Cataract Canyon with a party of thirty-five. She was asked to watch for the missing pair. Among Georgie’s passengers was Father John Finbarr Hayes, a twenty-eight-year-old Catholic priest, who had gone through Grand Canyon with her the year before.

Georgie was leading the party in her big boat when they came to placid water below Dark Canyon. It was Sunday, about nine o’clock in the morning. The party had been on the alert for the bodies of the two lost men, and as they drifted along Georgie spotted something unusual in a mass of floating driftwood. She knew instinctively what it was even though the man’s body was arched over with only the top curve of his back above the water. Both his head and his feet were submerged.

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Anne Ellen Geller Utah State University Press ePub

And I forgot the element of chance introduced by circumstances, calm or haste, sun or cold, dawn or dusk, the taste of strawberries or abandonment, the half-understood message, the front page of newspapers, the voice on the telephone, the most anodyne conversation, the most anonymous man or woman, everything that speaks, makes noise, passes by, touches us lightly, meets us head on.

Jacques Sojcher, qtd in de Certeau, xvi

Walk through a morning with us—we're out the door, heading to campus, strolling into the building, pulling out the office keys, and flipping on the lights. You know, the routine: turn on the computer, take off the coat, get to work. The voice mail message light blinks “Good Morning” in its own Morse code; the computer sings as it powers up, dinging one, two, twenty-five new email messages received. The clock continues its steady march toward the first class, and payroll must receive an accurate accounting of tutors' hours by noon today if checks are to appear in their boxes on Friday. These kinds of needs, and dozens more, demand our attention every hour. Yet it is all too easy to leave the writing center at the end of the day feeling complacent, believing that preparing a payroll, stepping in for a sick tutor, or even planning an upcoming staff meeting comprises the extent of our writing center's work. As necessary as these tasks are, we might be so consumed by them that we miss something else: the most interesting moments in our workday have probably not demanded our attention at all. As we shut off the lights and turn the key in the lock once more, we should wonder about the significance of all that we could have noticed in our everyday spaces: the role reversal of two of the writing center's prized action figures, Pokey and Shakespeare—Will, on this day, uncharacteristically, giving Pokey a ride. Pokey's skinny orange front legs are perched on the Bard's shoulders—a real switch in human-horse relations, a quiet surprise. Who did it, and why? The culprit, when finally identified, simply replies, “Equality.” Or the scene composed of a bright red cardinal puppet, an all-too-realistic gun, and the Western literature anthology. Some kind of threat? A weapon waiting to be retrieved later? No, a “tableau,” set up by one of the tutors, called “shooting the canon”

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Terry Tempest Williams and Ona Siporin: A Conversation Ona Siporin, Western American Literature, 1996

Michael Austin Utah State University Press ePub

William Stafford once wrote:

Justice will take us millions of intricate moves.

The intricate moves of Terry Tempest Williams in her efforts towards environmental justice are to turn the kaleidoscope ninety degrees, to listen to a shell (Pieces of White Shell), to translate the calligraphy of herons in flight (An Unspoken Hunger), to name the snows (The Secret Language of Snow), and to trace the rapid unraveling of the lives of the women in her family (Refuge). Time spent with Williams reveals a woman whose intriguing power, determination, and ambition remain half-obscured by seeming contradictions.

In late April of this year, at the request of Western American Literature, I drove up canyon out of Salt Lake and introduced myself at Terry’s door. She showed me into a living room where we sat by the windows and talked. I wanted to hear how Terry would situate herself. Perhaps it should seem obvious. She is the naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City, has a master’s degree in environmental education, and has won the Southwest Book Award. In her many works it is clear that her concerns are with the Great Basin and the deserts.

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Chapter 6 : Folk Narratives

Elliott Oring Utah State University Press ePub

Elliott Dring

“Narrative” is another word for story. Narrating is a method by which an experience is transformed into a verbal account. Experience is recapitulated by matching a verbal sequence of statements to some sequence of events which is purported to have occurred. For example:

(1) At first he refused the drink that she offered.

(2) She persisted in her demand that he at least taste it.

(3) He finally consented and drained the glass.

(4) Suddenly, he felt a searing pain in his stomach.

(5) He knew that he had been poisoned.

There are, indeed, other ways of communicating this same information which do not depend upon a representation of the temporal sequence of events. For example, “He knew that he had been poisoned when he felt the searing pain in his stomach from draining the drink that she insisted that he taste, but which he had first refused.” Although this second formulation is perfectly logical and communicative, we will not consider it a narrative because it does not represent experience in the order in which the events took place. Maintaining the order of events in the verbal recapitulation is basic to our definition of narrative. This distinguishes a narrative from other kinds of event reporting.1

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1 : The Siren Call

Raye Ringholz Utah State University Press ePub

CHARLIE DIDN’T QUITE KNOW how to tell M.L. There she was, her body all swelled up with a baby due in a couple of weeks. Their cramped rear apartment already teemed with three high-decibel kids under four years of age, crawling all over each other and on the few rickety pieces of furniture. There was barely enough money coming in to stock the fridge. Charlie felt guilty as hell but he knew he had to say that he was heading for the Colorado Plateau in a few days.

M.L. understood. It wasn’t unexpected. He had read the article to her, and said it was the only way out. Life with Charlie Steen had never been dull.

It was the winter of 1949. Houston, Texas. Charlie was twenty-eight years old. He was working as a carpenter—adding a bathroom here, remodeling a kitchen there—a job he tolerated out of necessity.

His real love was geology. That was his training. He had a B.A. in geology from the Texas School of Mines and Metallurgy in El Paso. He had started a promising career as a geologist with the Standard Oil Company of Indiana. They even gave him a fifty dollar raise after his first six weeks. He spent two years with them doing field work, locating potential oil deposits. It was in the field that he was at his best.

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