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...and the value of nothing

“Yellowstone is sacrosanct, but Grand Teton, well it’s pretty and all, but it lacks the cachet of those geysers. Grand Teton is a pretty postcard: Yellowstone is Mars. People would rather visit Mars.”

“Meaning what?” I asked.

“Meaning,” Lefty said, “that there won’t be any national outcry if someone wants to parcel out some federal land in Grand Teton....”

The Tetons are in the background.
Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

That exchange above is from Flood Moon, my third novel, the only one set in the American west.

Much of that narrative centers on the quiet and frequently clandestine rape of the American landscape. The release of the Alaskan wilderness to drilling and the opening of sections of land in Utah to development are mere precursors of the damage that a person—and a political party—can effect given the power and absent any aesthetic compass.

Looking west late in the day from Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park.

Alaska, Utah, Grand Teton—three more reasons why Donald Trump and people like him must never again be given the keys to this country.

We have seen the harm he has done to morale and morality, but behind the bombast and criminality lie little pieces of thievery and abuse. Trump is the philistine finger-painting over one more Rembrandt every day until they’re all gone and, eventually, we don’t miss them because no one remembers what they looked like.

He has been aided and abetted by the current Republican party—many good men and women—who have nevertheless sold their souls to Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Agra. But as these photos illustrate, all that "bigness" is, as always, dwarfed by nature itself.

The Tetons after a late-September snow

This from later in Flood Moon:

“Look up at that peak,” McDermott said. I leaned out the window and caught my breath. No matter how massive you think a mountain may be, until you’ve seen it in relief against an evening-blue backdrop—the sun behind it— you can’t fathom the almost frightening mass of it: black as pitch, all its outcroppings and crags obscured by the gathering dusk. And as if to heighten the drama—and it did not require heightening—a thin vermilion line trailed between the range and the sky, as if dabbed with fluorescent paint with an extra-fine brush. In the backlit panorama those peaks were towers and spires and parapets all in a row, each one reaching higher than the next.

Mount Moran from Ox-Bow Bend, Grand Teton National Park

Unless we are willing to accept the fact that we will soon witness these sights only in picture books and National Geographic specials, Donald Trump must go—along with all those like him who, as Oscar Wilde said of cynics, know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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