Guernica Magazine

Terese Svoboda: Writing the Desert

The author and translator on the changing American region that shaped her thinking. The post Terese Svoboda: Writing the Desert appeared first on Guernica.

Heat, sand, emptiness—this is how we tend to think of deserts. But in her recent short story collection, Great American Desert, Terese Svoboda reveals the desert of the American plains to be nearly swollen with life and meaning. Lyrical and affecting, these stories reveal the evolution of a single place over the course of aeons.

The collection contains more than 25 years’ worth of writing, including “Major Long Talks to His Horse,” which appeared in Guernica in early 2019. The stories are organized chronologically, beginning with one set in prehistoric times and ending with one set in a drought-stricken future. All take place in the Great American Desert, that dry prairieland beginning just east of the Rocky Mountains and spanning to about the 100th meridian, a line of latitude that cleaves the United States in two, from the top of the Dakotas down to Texas. The region earned its name from colonizers in the nineteenth century—at that time, “desert” was used to describe not

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