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Because It Is So Beautiful

Unraveling the Mystique of the American West

List Price: $16.95

July 10, 2018 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.25, 320 pages | ISBN 9781640090491
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A Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

“Calling Robert Reid an outdoor writer is like calling Thoreau a writer about pond camping.” ―Robert Roper, author of Nabokov in America

Ranging in their settings from eastern New Mexico to northern Alaska, Robert Leonard Reid’s essays illustrate his belief that the American West is worth celebrating and caring for. The nineteen pieces in Because It Is So Beautiful include essays from Reid’s previous books Arctic CircleMountains of the Great Blue Dream, and America, New Mexico; three essays that appear here in print for the first time; as well as revised and expanded versions of essays that appeared in TouchstoneThe Progressive, and elsewhere.

ROBERT LEONARD REID has received grants from the Sierra Arts Foundation and the Nevada Arts Council. He has worked as a songwriter, a cabaret pianist, and a mathematics textbook writer. He lives in Carson City, Nevada, with his wife, Carol Dimmick Reid. They have a son, Jake.


Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay 

“If Robert Leonard Reid isn’t on your reading list of Western writers of nonfiction, you should place him on it . . . Reid writes about nature in ways that are clear-eyed, incandescent, and provocative.” ―Albuquerque Journal

“These nineteen selected essays by Robert Leonard Reid are stirring, witty, gorgeously written paeans to the wilderness. It’s a wonderful, must-read collection.” ―Ron Hansen, National Book Award finalist, author of Mariette in EcstasyDesperadoes, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

“There are many books about the American West. This one, Robert Leonard Reid’s lustrous, selected essays from the last four decades, is indispensable. The pages embody the beauty they describe. We find here lightning bolts and bears, the balletic caribou, atomic weapons, legendary wolves, mountaintops where light is a territory of spirit, adventures daft and courageous. We find both the grit and sorrow of history and meditations on redemption and the sacred. But best of all, and most of all, we have the company of the writer: his clear, loving, respectful prose, his bemusement and honesty and learning, the finery of his reflections, and the integrity of his journey.” ―Steven Nightingale, author of Granada and The Hot Climate of Promises and Grace

“Calling Robert Reid an outdoor writer is like calling Thoreau a writer about pond camping. There is so much more. He writes authoritatively and passionately about the West, especially the wild parts. Wilderness is not better when empty of man, in Reid’s descriptions of it; in fact, you might almost say it fails to exist, without some questing consciousness standing under a nighttime mountain sky, hanging thoughts on the shivering stars. Reid has been writing classic American essays full of Twain-like humor and Emersonian moral force for forty years now. In this collection we find him in his calmly formidable prime.” ―Robert Roper, author of Nabokov in America

“I promise you, this is a man who can enhance, change, and vitalize your life. I also promise you he brings all that together in these pages: you’re going to love this book.” ―David Lee, Pulitzer Prize nominee for News from Down to the Cafe

“Forty years in the making, this astonishing collection could not come at a more urgent time. Its title, Because It Is So Beautiful, alludes to Robert Reid’s unrelenting quest to celebrate our vulnerable, historic wilderness, but it also speaks to his prose, and to himself. With lyricism, charm, and trenchant observations, he inspires readers to meditate on the importance of being alive, of being responsible for the landscapes we inhabit. He remains not merely a first-class writer but an invaluable moral guide.”―Sascha Feinstein, author of Wreckage: My Father’s Legacy of Art & Junk and Ask Me Now: Conversations on Jazz & Literature

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