Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pg. 69: "In the Sierra Madre"

Jeff Biggers has worked as a writer, educator, radio correspondent, and community organizer across the United States, Europe, India and Mexico.

I asked him to apply the "page 69 test" to his new book, In the Sierra Madre. Here is what he reported:
My new book, In the Sierra Madre, is a blend of memoir, history and storytelling, based on our one-year sojourn among the still very traditional indigenous Raramuri in Mexico's famed Copper Canyon; it follows in the footsteps of various travelers, adventurers and misfits that have trundled into the legendary range in search of some illusory treasure. Page 69 recounts one of those great moments of hypocrisy for travelers and traveling writers, when we're quick to point the finger of change and become outraged by the crush of modernity, forgetting that we are not only part of this change, but have been changed ourselves in the process. American writers and journalists like myself always seem to be in a hurry to write the requiem for native peoples; the Raramuri, as we learn as we turn the page, may have changed their dress, but they have learned to adopt and adapt to tremendous outside pressures as well as anyone. In fact, they're thriving. Page 70 turns the question to me, only a generation away from a land-based backwoods culture: What remains vital in my heritage? What have I lost?
Thanks to Jeff for the input.

Among the praise for In the Sierra Madre:
" ... numerous unforgettable characters, and situations that only a traveler of this ilk could manage. Biggers writes a decidedly adventurous narrative, but he is no adventurer. He is the quintessential observer, with the eye and voice of a poet."
San Antonio Express-News

“Jeff Biggers has the keenest eye in the business, and he has a fine, luminous voice to tell you what he has seen. This is a welcome addition to western and Mexican letters. Biggers manages to write like a poet, a historian, a naturalist and an adventurer. His pages are burnished and alive, and I admire his work. You need to read this one soon.”
--Luis Urrea, author of
The Hummingbird’s Daughter and The Devil's Highway

Click here for a Q&A about the book.

Read Jeff's short story "The Last Adriatic Grizzly" here.

Jeff Biggers won a Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism and his coedited volume No Lonesome Road: Selected Prose and Poems, by Don West, won an American Book Award. He is also the author of The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture and Enlightenment to America.

Previous "page 69 tests":
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue