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How to Cuss in Western: And Other Missives from the High Desert (Paperback)
Where nature writing meets humor—a raucous, hilarious look at life in the high desert of Nevada, from the author of Raising Wild and Rants from the Hill.
Edward Abbey encouraged his readers to “be loyal to what you love, be true to the Earth, and fight your enemies with passion and laughter.” Here is Michael Branch’s response. Full of clear-eyed explorations of the natural world, witty cultural observations, and heart-warming family connections, How to Cuss in Western is a cranky and hilarious love letter of sorts to the western Great Basin Desert of Nevada.
About the Author
MICHAEL P. BRANCH is a professor of literature and environment at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he teaches creative nonfiction, American literature, environmental studies, and film studies. He has published five books and more than two hundred essays, articles, and reviews. Mike lives with his wife, Eryn, and daughters, Hannah Virginia and Caroline Emerson, in a passive solar home of their own design at 6,000 feet in the remote high desert of northwestern Nevada, in the ecotone where the Great Basin Desert and Sierra Nevada Mountains meet. There he writes, plays blues harmonica, drinks sour mash, curses at baseball on the radio, cuts stove wood, and walks at least 1,200 miles each year in the surrounding hills, canyons, ridges, arroyos, and playas.
“It’s not easy to live in the high desert of the American West—it requires an eye for the sparest sort of natural beauty, a robust sense of humor that can help one weather the inevitable indignities and hardships that accompany life in such a landscape, and, yes, even a special class of regionally-inflected swear words. In How to Cuss in Western, Michael P. Branch once again offers his readers a companionable journey into the remote places he loves so we might share in the unique joy and humor he finds there.”—S. M. Hulse, author of Black River
"Not long ago Mike Branch was a respected academic, one of the founders of ecocriticism, before he shed that old skin and emerged anew as a kind of Thoreau in Groucho glasses. That emergence has been a delight for readers, who find both laughter and wisdom in the words of this western ranter, perched high in his desert home in Nevada, up on Ranting Hill, where he worships a divine troika of family, humor, and place. In his always-engaging essays, we encounter sage and pronghorns, juniper and sandstone, but also garden gnomes, the art of wheel waving, casual strolls to California, Muppets, and a deep meditation on flatulence. A book that could proudly sit on any western shelf next to Austin’s or Abbey’s."—David Gessner, author of All the Wild That Remains
"By turns hilarious and thought-provoking, Branch’s collection will not disappoint."—Publishers Weekly
"Branch pours IPA, rye whiskey, and a frequent 'tumbler of sour mash' while breathing satisfaction for the domestic life. His gift for humor arises in well-turned phrases and ironic scenes."—The Spokesman-Review
"Michael Branch is a master of iconoclastic irony and gifted with a unique and compelling storytelling style that will keep the reader's riveted attention throughout."—Midwest Book Review