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Offbeat Travels Through America's Southwest

by Tom Miller
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Winner of the Lowell Thomas Best Travel Book of 2000
"One of our best non-fiction writers" —San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

10-digit ISBN1-933693-60-6
13-digit ISBN9781933693606
Page Count256
Product Dimensions5.63 x 8.755 x .80
Publication DateJanuary 1, 2010
RightsPlease contact Cinco Puntos Press for details about rights.
"Nothing happens all the time in the Sierra del Pinacate. This region of extinct volcanoes, lava flows, and sand dunes, covering more than 600 square miles just beyond the Arizona border in Sonora, Mexico, supports little life and less industry. Through history hunters, smugglers, and missionaries have walked the Pinacate floor; writers, artists, and soothsayers have sung its praises. Traces of Indian life from the first millennium have been found just beneath its surface. Astronauts destined for lunar voyages have trained in its craters. Earth must have looked like the Pinacate before man evolved, and I imagine Earth will again resemble this haunting and seemingly infinite land when no one remains to appreciate it."

Who killed that saguaro outside Phoenix?
What is the sound of one billboard falling?
Cochise who?

Tom Miller's Southwest is a vortex of cockfights and cantinas, of black-velvet paintings and tacky bolo ties, of eco-militants, border-crossers, and eccentric characters whose outlook is as spare and elemental as the desert that surrounds them. This is Miller's turf. With wit and insight, he reveals how the clich's of romanticism and capitalism have run amuck in his homeland. When a saguaro cactus outside Phoenix kills its own assassin, it becomes clear that no other guide to the southwest manifests such a clear moral vision while reveling in the joy of this magnificent land and its people. Originally published by National Geographic as Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink, it received the Gold Award for Best Travel Book in 2000 given by the Society of American Travel Writers.

Tom Miller has been writing about the American Southwest and Latin America for more than three decades. His ten books include The Panama Hat Trail which follows the making and marketing of one Panama hat and Trading with the Enemy which Lonely Planet says 'may be the best travel book about Cuba ever written.' Miller began his journalism career in the underground press of the late 60s and early '70s, and has written articles for the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Natural History, and Rolling Stone. He lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Regla Albarr'n.

"Tom Miller has brought the region to life in his own special way. He helps us all see beyond the ancient pulp fictions to the dailiness of life in that American place and in doing so, he adds to its reality and magic. We should all thank him."
—Pete Hamill, from his foreword
San Francisco Chronicle
[Miller is] a superb reporter and slyly funny stylist. This is a compulsively readable book by one of our best non-fiction writers.
Los Angeles Times
Tom Miller knows his Southwest, and in [this book] he takes us on a tour of some of its quirky, funky characters and out-of-the-way places.
Larry McMurtry
Miller is as quirky and delightful as ever, treating the Southwest as a vast midden from which he plucks many odorous but tasty treasures. The fun, as usual, comes from watching Tom digest.
Martin Cruz Smith
Tom Miller loves the American Southwest the way a man loves a wayward, difficult woman, accepting her trashy, all-too-interesting history while knowing the heartbreaking truth. A rueful, wonderful, highly personal guide.
Library Journal
Residents, potential visitors, and armchair travelers alike will be captivated by Miller’s informative and often humorous book, in which the romance and reality of the Southwest are intermingled within a fine narrative.
New West - Books & Writers
Miller’s essays in Revenge of the Saguaro are travel writing of a sort, but they are of a different species entirely than the tips about what posh places to eat at or sleep in that one finds in glossy travel magazines. Instead, Miller offers an insider’s account of the grit, local gossip, and glorious bad taste that are a part of what endears the Southwest to its residents. And he just might convince you to overcome your food prejudices and head out for a chimichanga.
- Jenny Shank, February 22, 2010 
full review >>
The Salt Lake Tribune
Imaginative, inventive, witty…Miller has written a wonder-filled book.
Siouxland Weekly (Iowa)
Miller writes with passion about the region and relays it with as much skill as John Steinbeck.
San Antonio Current
Maybe the story of David Grundman - the man who, out of boredom, shotgunned a 125-year-old saguaro cactus only to be crushed to death under its 3,000 pound carcass - is a metaphor for man’s struggle against nature in the unforgiving Arizona desert. Maybe it’s just hilarious. Tucson travel writer Tom Miller seems to think the latter, and his essay “Revenge of the Saguaro” benefits greatly from it. “Revenge” is one of the easiest-reading, least substantial stories in the book by the same name, but Miller’s witty, well-considered telling, which begins when the saguaro seedling took root during the Buchanan administration and ends with a park manager’s gleefully graphic description of the crime scene (“The cactus popped his gums like they were little water balloons”), elevates a good anecdote into a great piece of writing.
- March 3, 2010 
full review >>
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