Meloy, Ellen (Ditzler)
MELOY, Ellen (Ditzler)
Married; husband, a river ranger.
Home—Bluff, UT. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pantheon, Random House, 201 East 50th St., New York, NY 10022.
Writer, illustrator, and naturalist. Conducts workshops in natural history and in nature writing for Canyonlands Field Institute. Commentator for Utah Public Radio.
Spur Award, Western Writers of America, 1995, for Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River; Whiting Foundation Writer's Award, 1997; Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction finalist, 2002, and Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award, and Utah Book Award, both 2003, all for The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit.
Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River, Holt (New York, NY), 1994.
The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest, Holt (New York, NY), 1999.
The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit, Pantheon (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of essays to anthologies, including Shadow Cat, Sasquatch Press; Water, Earth, and Sky, University of Utah Press; The Place Within: Portraits of the American Landscape, Norton; and Testimony, Milk-weed Press. Contributor to Northern Lights, Utne Reader, Orion, and other periodicals.
Sandra Chisholm Robinson, Expedition Yellowstone: A Mountain Adventure, Roberts Rinehart (Boulder, CO), 1986.
Chris Hunter, Better Trout Habitat: A Guide to Stream Restoration, Island Press (Washington, DC), 1991.
Naturalist, artist, and writer Ellen Meloy communicates her love of the American Southwest in several volumes of collected essays, among them the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit. Connected by a loose history of the regional turquoise stone, as well as traditions regarding the color turquoise as a symbol of yearning, she "contemplates the mysteries of life and death, visits the back-country of the Navajo nation … considers what it means to be attached to one particular place, and takes a few potshots at … urban civilization," explained a Kirkus Reviews critic. Citing Meloy for her "kaleidoscopic writing bursting with intensely felt colors," School Library Journal contributor Sheila Shoup praised the author's profound comments, expressed in a "narrative that is both captivating and informative." Along with the colors of the desert, she reflects on her need for solitude and the visual beauty found in nature. "Knowledgeable and lyrical, Meloy's meditations should resonate with those who find sustenance in the natural world," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.
Meloy's first award-winning volume of essays, 1994's Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River, recounts her experiences during one season—late March through early October—patrolling the 730-mile-long river that stretches across Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Traveling with her husband, a ranger with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, she traverses such areas as the Desolation Canyon gorge, a true wilderness area where "bears and cougars still prowl, peregrine falcons soar, the extreme rare humpback chub swims, and ghosts of Anasazi Indians roam," according to Kliatt contributor Randy M. Brough. Praising Raven's Exile as a "scintillating account" of Meloy's river trip, a Publishers Weekly contributor cited her use of "rich and sensuous language," in bringing to the mind's eye the stark, spare beauty of the region. Noting the author's arch humor, Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman also described Meloy as "as prickly as a cactus, as observant and teasing as a raven, as sensual as a cat," her sensitive insights transformed to "scathing analysis" of Western politics as the journey's end finds her in Las Vegas. Brough called Raven's Exile "an eloquent testament, a wry polemic, a spirited adventure."
In The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest Meloy examines the intersection between wilderness and technology as she describes the impact upon a New Mexico desert used as the Trinity site of U.S. Army nuclear testing in 1945. Described by New York Times Book Review contributor as a "sad irony," the sparse desert region that was unable to sustain large-scale agriculture proved to fit the needs of the U.S. government during World War II and after; while appearing lifeless, the Jornada del Muerto desert actually was home to many species of indigenous life. During her travels of over 200 miles of desert on the Colorado plateau, Meloy argues that the effects of such tests, as well as the government's uranium mining in the region, are yet unknown; her "sadness and anger over human predations on the landscape are heartfelt and moving," added a Publishers Weekly reviewer, while Bryce Christensen noted in Booklist that Meloy's "intense regional attachment" resonates with significant "global implications."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Alternatives Journal, fall, 2002, Pamela Banting, "Nuclear Landscape," p. 53.
Booklist, June 1, 1994, Donna Seaman, review of Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River, p. 1763; January 1, 1999, Bryce Christensen, review of The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest, p. 821; July, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit, p. 791
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of The Anthropology of Turquoise, p. 584.
Kliatt, November, 1995, Randy M. Brough, review of Raven's Exile, p. 38.
Library Journal, June 15, 1994, Nancy Moeckel, review of Raven's Exile, p. 90; February 15, 1999, Dale Ebersole, Jr., review of The Last Cheater's Waltz, p. 179; June 15, 2002, Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, review of The Anthropology of Turquoise, p. 91.
New York Times Book Review, April 11, 1999, Bill Sharp, review of The Last Cheater's Waltz, p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, May 23, 1994, review of Raven's Exile, p. 72; January 25, 1999, review of The Last Cheater's Waltz, p. 79; June 17, 2002, review of The Anthropology of Turquoise, p. 55.
School Library Journal, February, 2003, Sheila Shoup, review of The Anthropology of Turquoise, p. 174.
Washington Post Book World, August 7, 1994, review of Raven's Exile, p. 13.*