The Spell Of New Mexico Edited by Tony Hillerman


“The Spell Of New Mexico by Tony Hillerman” must be a “rich gathering of essays”, since every review you read about this book says just that.  I liked what was said in the preface: Pretentious as it sounds, and tough as it is to prove, there does seem to be something about New Mexico which not only attracts creative people but stimulates their creativity. There seems to be a larger proportion of writers and artists in this special place, and the book is a collection of their stories.

Tony Hillerman was born in Oklahoma and moved to Santa Fe in 1952, where he worked as a journalist. In 1966 he moved his family to Albuquerque where he earned a master's degree from the University of New Mexico, taught journalism from 1966 to 1987, and began writing novels. Hillerman died on October 26, 2008, of pulmonary failure in Albuquerque at the age of 83.

Mary Austin, playwright, poet, essayist, and novelist wrote: “To say that the Southwest has had a significant past, and will have a magnificent future, because it is a superb wealth-breeder, is to miss the fact that several generations of men wasted themselves upon it happily.”

D.H. Lawerence wrote: “There is no mystery left, we’ve been there, we’ve seen it, we know all about it. We’ve done the globe, and the globe is done.” Having said that this statement stands out: “I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had.”

Additional essays by Oliver La Farge, Conrad Richter, C.G. Jung, Winfield Townley Scott, John DeWitt McKee, Ernie Pyle, Harvey Fergusson and Lawrence Clark Powell all contributed with essays that discuss the appeal of New Mexico.

Mary Austin wrote that “Man is not himself only………..He is all that he sees.”  Seeing New Mexico through these authors eyes is worth the time.

Points of Interest

  • Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the United States at 7,000 feet above sea level.

  • The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe was built in 1610, making it the oldest government building in the U.S.

  • Each October Albuquerque hosts the world's largest international hot air balloon fiesta.

  • The world's first Atomic Bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 on the White Sands Testing Range near Alamogordo.

  • White Sands National Monument is a desert but instead of sand it has gleaming white gypsum crystals.

  • New Mexico is one of the four corner states. Bordering at the same point with Colorado, Utah and Arizona.