Category Archives: Reviews

Ordinary Skin: Essays from Willow Springs



Not everyone is an observer, and only a few have an unquenchable thirst for the truth, for how things work away from the asphalt. How Amy Auker sees her natural world in this collection of essays reads like poetry, and sounds like poetry as well. I was so delighted, and so subsequently exhausted with these detailed vignettes that I had to take tiny bites at first, 10 -15 pages at a time—not tired exhausted, but I was left so ethereally spent that I needed pause to percolate from my out-of-body state. Her writing engulfed me.

Auker cowboys the Spider Ranch north of Prescott, Arizona, a nearly inaccessible landscape except by foot or horseback. What she sees, what she shares is that rare glimpse of the wild she rides, and how her natural world flows around and within her inquisitive mind. This is a love story—a love for a man and for a place that are one in the same.

Among the strong contemporary women who are writing the West, she represents the cattle culture candidly, and so thoroughly, that one cannot help but scrap all the cowboy stereotypes for an unheralded ethic common to most ranching families shaped by the land they occupy. Ordinary Skin is perhaps the most beautiful and original prose I’ve read in years.


Ordinary Skin