By Jeff Guinn
G. P. Putnam's Sons
$26.95; 416 pages; fiction
OK, so since he's already written about Wyatt Earp (The Last Gunfight), Bonnie and Clyde (Go Down Together) and Charles Manson (Manson), former Fort Worth Star-Telegraph investigative journalist and book editor Jeff Guinn might as well create his own attractive bad boy. He's done so in this first-in-a-trilogy Western.
In Glorious, Cash McLendon, the resourceful but poor son of a St. Louis drunk, street-smarts his way into the service—and then the family—of an unscrupulous, wealthy, land-grabbing industrialist. When trouble hits, McLendon lights out for Arizona. What he discovers, of course, is plus ça change: the same greed that gobbled up St. Louis threatens to gobble up Glorious, the little settlement north of Florence he's landed in. It's an 1872 mining town, so there are hopeful prospectors, willing whores, marauding Apaches, corrupt politicians, industrious Chinese workers and optimistic settlers. For these folks, McLendon might be called to take a stand.
There's an interesting contemporary feel to this Western. City boy McLendon doesn't know how to ride or shoot or bust heads; what he knows how to do is observe, spy and think on his feet. The female characters are strong but not anachronistically feminist. Rigors of traversing east-central Arizona Territory are convincing.
If the action slows in the middle, it picks up nicely at the end. And, dang, Guinn has uncovered the previous life of a Tucson historian. A character named Bruce Dinges shows up as a fiddle-playing prospector.
Miraval's Sweet and Savory Cooking
By Justin Cline Macy and Kim Macy
$29.95; 224 pages; cookbook
Even the layout of this new cookbook by Miraval Resort and Spa executive chef Justine Cline Macy and pastry chef Kim Macy has a sense of the resort's "mindfulness" about it: it's presented in nonjarring beiges, pale yellows and other natural vegetable hues suitable for "life in balance."
Thankfully, the husband and wife team has assembled a collection of mindful recipes that don't demand full-out flavor denial. You've got plenty of gluten-free and low calorie concoctions, but Kim Macy offers up desserts such as chocolate-dipped pizzelles with honey lavender gelato and Frangelico crème caramel; Justine Cline Macy tempts us with sear-roasted pork tenderloin with chipotle sauce, and halibut with spicy greens, Israeli couscous and ponzu broth. They also provide some useful cooking advice. You can re-create your spa experience. Or cook as if you've had one.
On a different note, a pair of books from University of Arizona Press:
Looking Like the Enemy: Japanese Mexicans, the Mexican State, and U.S. Hegemony, 1897-1945
By Jerry García
$50; 264 pages; history
Fleshing the Spirit: Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina, and Indigenous Women's Lives
Edited by Elisa Facio and Irene Lara
$29.95; 296 pages; poetry and essays
Our local land-grant U has more than just sunshine, a really big "A" and hoops going for it: it's got the University of Arizona Press, dedicated to publishing regional scholarship. Two recent publications highlight cultures. In Looking Like the Enemy, Jerry García, a professor of Chicano studies and history, chronicles the experience of Japanese in Mexico from the 19th century through World War II. García examines Mexico-U.S. relations and how the experience of being a Japanese-Mexican differs from the experience of Japanese-Americans. It's not a beach read, but it's the first English-language book on the topic.
Fleshing the Spirit synthesizes the scholarly with the personal: it's lighter and more affecting. Poems and essays by a score of Latina and Native American scholars, writers, teachers and activists explore the relationships between the physical and spiritual in women's lives, challenging the strictures of Eurocentric religions, male-dominant social stratification and sexual discrimination. One touching personal essay comes from local Tohono O'odham Angelita Borbón. She celebrates both the land and her mother. "Creosote and lavender," she writes, "grow in my garden. ... (S)he is the desert in pearls and lavender."