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Offbeat Travels Through America's Southwest

Author: Tom Miller

Tom Miller's Southwest is a vortex of cockfights and cantinas, of black-velvet paintings and tacky bolo ties, of eco-militants, border-crossers, and eccentric characters whose outlook is as spare and elemental as the desert that surrounds them. This is Miller's turf. With wit and insight, he reveals how the clich's of romanticism and capitalism have run amuck in his homeland. When a saguaro cactus outside Phoenix kills its own assassin, it becomes clear that no other guide to the southwest manifests such a clear moral vision while reveling in the joy of this magnificent land and its people. Originally published by National Geographic as Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink, it received the Gold Award for Best Travel Book in 2000 given by the Society of American Travel Writers.

Miller has been writing about the American Southwest and Latin America for more than three decades. His ten books include The Panama Hat Trail which follows the making and marketing of one Panama hat and Trading with the Enemy which Lonely Planet says 'may be the best travel book about Cuba ever written.

From New West - Books & Writers
Miller’s essays in Revenge of the Saguaro are travel writing of a sort, but they are of a different species entirely than the tips about what posh places to eat at or sleep in that one finds in glossy travel magazines. Instead, Miller offers an insider’s account of the grit, local gossip, and glorious bad taste that are a part of what endears the Southwest to its residents. And he just might convince you to overcome your food prejudices and head out for a chimichanga.

From the San Antonio Current
Maybe the story of David Grundman - the man who, out of boredom, shotgunned a 125-year-old saguaro cactus only to be crushed to death under its 3,000 pound carcass - is a metaphor for man’s struggle against nature in the unforgiving Arizona desert. Maybe it’s just hilarious. Tucson travel writer Tom Miller seems to think the latter, and his essay “Revenge of the Saguaro” benefits greatly from it. “Revenge” is one of the easiest-reading, least substantial stories in the book by the same name, but Miller’s witty, well-considered telling, which begins when the saguaro seedling took root during the Buchanan administration and ends with a park manager’s gleefully graphic description of the crime scene (“The cactus popped his gums like they were little water balloons”), elevates a good anecdote into a great piece of writing.

$14.95 (softcover)
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