Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Wall Street Journal :: Crazy from the Heat

Crazy from the Heat
By James H. Evans
AUGUST 27, 2011

Photo-Op: Big Bender

Texas's Big Bend—where the Rio Grande juts abruptly north on its path toward the Gulf of Mexico—is a hard place. A century ago one visitor wrote: 'The country isn't bad. It's just worse. Worse the moment you set foot from the train, and then, after that, just worser and worser.' Yet in 'Crazy From the Heat' (University of Texas, 192 pages, $55), James H. Evans shows off how beautiful the Big Bend's arid moonscapes can be, in their own gruff way. Mr. Evans, who moved to the small town of Marathon in 1988, captures the profound West Texas emptiness, where endless horizons are broken only by isolated escarpments such as the Chisos Mountains, which the writer and environmentalist Edward Abbey called 'a castled fortification of Wagnerian gods.' The humans who make the Big Bend their home are an eclectic bunch: a man wearing a necklace of live lizards, a crowd gathered for chihuahua races, a few tough-looking old cowboys. They share the land with intimidating creatures like the bull snake (above)—a constrictor that can grow as long as 8 feet—and other fauna best avoided by the faint-hearted.
—The Editors

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