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deBuys, William and Alex Harris. River of Traps: A Village Life. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990.
As scholars, we can look at this book not only as a page-turner, but also as an example of how to tell a story of a cultural landscape. In River of Traps, it is difficult to distinguish between the land, the build environment, the animals, or the people of this small town in the Sangre de Christo Mountains. For example, the photographs, all in black and white, render the figure of the old man nearly indistinguishable from the bale of hay on which he rests. Likewise, in each anecdote, it is difficult to separate whether deBuys is talking about Jacopo, his horse, the flood, or the pitchfork. Just when deBuys laments that his words "cannot capture the manner of [Jacopo's] storytelling: the slight, hypnotic gestures of his enormous hands, the solemn, mask-like face breaking into a grin, the gleam in his eye when he sensed your disbelief or squeamishness." Harris interrupts with a series of photos of Jacopo telling a story [53-55]. And the scene is complete. By the end of the book, we come to know these men and their landscape. We can imagine their expressions, feel their triumphs and losses, and almost touch the ground on which they survive. [S. Dangelas].