The arid American Southwest is host to numerous organisms described as desert-loving, or xerophilous. Extending this term to include the regions writers and the works that mirror their love of desert places, Tom Lynch presents the first systematically ecocritical study of its multicultural literature. By revaluing nature and by shifting literary analysis from an anthropocentric focus to an ecocentric one, "Xerophilia" demonstrates how a bioregional orientation opens new ways of thinking about the relationship between literature and place. Applying such diverse approaches as environmental justice theory, phenomenology, border studies, ethnography, entomology, conservation biology, environmental history, and ecoaesthetics, Lynch demonstrates how a rooted literature can be symbiotic with the world that enables and sustains it. Analyzing works in a variety of genres by writers such as Leslie Marmon Silko, Terry Tempest Williams, Edward Abbey, Ray Gonzales, Charles Bowden, Susan Tweit, Gary Paul Nabhan, Pat Mora, Ann Zwinger, and Janice Emily Bowers, this study reveals how southwestern writers, in their powerful role as community storytellers, contribute to a sustainable bioregional culture that persuades inhabitants to live imaginatively, intellectually, and morally in the arid bioregions of the American Southwest. '[W]hether I notice or not, the landscape suffuses my body. Intermingled scents enter my lungs with each breath: dust, rock, juniper, turpentine bush, mountain mahogany, the heady mix of volatile oils of the creosote bush, and the ever-so-subtle odor of blue sky. Though less often articulated, all of my senses, not just vision, are engaged; the phenomena of this world circulate through me, and I through them. The landscape caresses as I pass through...On my feet again, I hobble from stiffness, throw my pack on, and, leaning on my sotol stalk for balance, begin to pick my way zigzag down the long rocky slope. I am in love with this landscape. I am, indeed, a devoted xerophile' - from the introduction.
Publisher: Texas Tech Press,U.S.