Great and Peculiar Beauty: A Utah Reader

Here is a welcome buffet of Utah literature spread out in celebration of the centennial of Utah’s hard-won statehood. Editors Thomas Lyon, of Utah State University, and Terry Tempest Williams, of the University of Utah, serve up nearly 150 personal and imaginative writings and poems by more than 130 Utah writers in a big, splendid anthology destined to be a literary landmark in the cultural history of Utah.

Eschewing familiar and well-worn organizing metaphors, the editors have gathered their selections under a fresh and utile organizing principle that transforms Utah’s five topographically distinct terrains, each of which possesses an inherent “great and peculiar beauty,” into five “literary provinces”: “The Great Basin,” “Urban Terrace,” “Mountains,” “Colorado Plateau,” and “Dixie.” Introducing each section in brief, lyrical essays centered in the natural history of the province, the editors present a judicious selection of some familiar but mostly less accessible or virtually unknown works of poetry, fiction, history, personal narratives, interviews (with earlier inhabitants), and accounts of present-day life in the five provinces. All of this gathers to a satisfying cultural, historical, and literary feast.

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