“It’s May and I’ve just awakened from a nap, curled against sagebrush the way my dog taught me to sleep—sheltered from the wind.”
“To live and work in this kind of open country, with its hundred-mile views, is to lose the distinction between background and foreground.”
“It’s all a bunch of nothing—wind and rattlesnakes—and so much of it you can’t tell where you’re going or where you’ve been and it don’t make much difference.”
“The arid country was a clean slate. Its absolute indifference steadied me.”
“In most parts of
“The solitude in which westerners live makes them quiet. They telegraph thoughts and feelings by the way they tilt their heads and listen.”
“Sentence structure is shortened to the skin and bones of a thought. Descriptive words are dropped, even verbs: ‘Which one needs rode?’ ”
“If anything is endemic to
“The individualism and optimism generated during those times have endured.”
“So the dark side to the grandeur of these spaces is the small-mindedness that seals people in. Men become hermits; women go mad. Cabin fever explodes into suicides or into grudges and lifelong family feuds.”
“One of our evening entertainments was to watch the night sky.”
“…being affluent, we strangle ourselves with what we can buy.”
Comment: Another model (“What Is Camp?”) of defining the indefinable. RayS.
Best American Essays of the Century. Editors: Oates and Atwan.