The 2018 One Book Yuma selection is Mythical River: Chasing the Mirage of New Water in the American Southwest by Melissa L. Sevigny. Make this a true community-wide reading event! Pick up your copy of Mythical River at your local library or book seller.
In a lyrical mix of natural science, history, and memoir, Melissa L. Sevigny ponders what it means to make a home in the American Southwest at a time when its most essential resource, water, is overexploited and undervalued. Mythical River takes the reader on a historical sojourn into the story of the Buenaventura, an imaginary river that led eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorers, fur trappers, and emigrants astray for seventy-five years. This mythical river becomes a metaphor for our modern-day attempts to supply water to a growing population in the Colorado River Basin. Readers encounter a landscape literally remapped by the search for “new” water, where rivers flow uphill, dams and deep wells reshape geography, trees become intolerable competitors for water, and new technologies tap into clouds and oceans.
In contrast to this fantasy of abundance, Sevigny explores acts of restoration. From a dismantled dam in Arizona to an accidental wetland in Mexico, she examines how ecologists, engineers, politicians, and citizens have attempted to secure water for desert ecosystems. In a place scarred by conflict, she shows how recognizing the rights of rivers is a path toward water security. Ultimately, Sevigny writes a new map for the future of the American Southwest, a vision of a society that accepts the desert’s limits in exchange for an intimate relationship with the natural world.
Melissa L. Sevigny grew up in Tucson, Arizona where she fell in love with the Sonoran Desert’s ecology, geology and dark desert skies. Her lyrical nonfiction and poetry explores the intersections of science, politics, and history, with a focus on the American Southwest.
Sevigny is the author of two nonfiction books, Mythical River: Chasing the Mirage of New Water in the American Southwest (University of Iowa Press, 2016) and Under Desert Skies: How Tucson Mapped the Way to the Moon and Planets (University of Arizona Press, 2016). She earned a B.S. in Environmental Science & Policy from the University of Arizona and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University.
She has worked as a science communicator in the fields of water policy, sustainable agriculture, and planetary science. She worked for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Scout Mission during its ground operations on Mars in 2008. She is currently the Science & Technology Reporter for KNAU (Arizona Public Radio) in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Melissa will visit Yuma Wednesday, March 21st, to lead two community discussions.
Wednesday, March 21st • 1:00-2:30 p.m.
AZ Western College, 3C Building
Wednesday, March 21st • 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Main Library, 1st Floor Meeting Room
One Book Yuma is brought to you by Arizona Western College/Northern Arizona University-Yuma Academic Library, Arizona Western College Office of Campus Life, Friends of the Foothills Library, Friends of Yuma County Libraries, Inc., Yuma County Library District, and the Yuma Sun.