A friend (M) was going to loan this book to a mutual friend (J) but J didn’t show up at the group meeting, and since M was leaving town for a month he gave me the book in expectation that I would pass it on to J at our meeting next week. I agreed. Unfortunately for me I decided to read the book before then, because it is short and written by Barry Lopez, whose book Arctic Dreams I had read many years ago. I remember liking that book and was hoping this one would be as good. It clearly wasn’t! At least by my tastes. It is a rambling piece of wordy fantasy set in an unspecified desert place that sometimes reminded me of our local area here in Bend, Oregon. If you read it, there will probably be passages that remind you of someplace you have been, or lived, or thought you might like to visit when feeling despondent about the human condition. It is the kind of fictional abstraction where you might meet a salty old man who is certain to tell you things of absolute truth, with absolute conviction, that on closer inspection are absolute nonsense and of absolutely no value.
If you persevere through the seventy-eight pages, which is shorter than it sounds because there are many blank pages, (for example, pages 28 through 30 have only a single word) and there is rarely a word or thought that would be unknown to a nine-year-old boy. But setting these doubts, provisos, and innuendos aside, the book makes excellent bedtime reading because the images are clear, mildly interesting, and for me at least profoundly soporific.
For me, Desert Notes is a classic snoozer.