Gila National Forest Canyon
Photo of the Gila National Forest by Dolor Ipsum used under a Creative Commons license.

Sharman Apt Russell, Songs of the Fluteplayer (Bison Books, 2002).
Writing for Salon’s Literary Guide to the World about southern New Mexico, Philip Connors says that

for a vision of contemporary life in this part of the world, one could scarcely do better than to pick up Sharman Apt Russell’s “Songs of the Fluteplayer” (1991), a collection of personal essays that range from the clash between environmentalists and cattle ranchers to the moral quandaries involved in hiring illegal laborers. At its best, it explores human-imposed boundaries — say, between public land and private, or between America and Mexico — with clarity, grace and a subtlety that subverts simple-minded moralizing.

When she wrote the book, Russell taught writing at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, where she has been since 1981, and lived in the Mimbres Valley, also in the southwest part of the state. I haven’t read this one, but I enjoyed Russell’s Kill the Cowboy.

Here is Russell’s bio at WNMU. This brief bio links to several of her articles. Her Wikipedia entry isn’t much longer. Google Books lets you take a look. Janet Schoberg says it captures the charm and challenge of the American Southwest. Susan J. Tweit interviewed Russell for Story Circle Book Reviews.

Buy it at