Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On "Greetings from the Salton Sea" by Kim Stringfellow ***

It's rare to see pollution and devastation photographed so beautifully. This is a gorgeous picture book that halfway tempts me to walk right back out there to the Imperial Valley and see these things for myself. (I have driven through the Imperial Valley. One does not want to walk through this place. It is awful. It is desolate. It is flat and white and barren. It is like passing over very large parking lot of white cement--in every direction, clear to the horizon.) But wow, I've never seen this place look more fantastic.

Stringfellow's introductory essay situates the photographs that she's made of the Salton Sea, which rest in this valley. The largest inland body of water in the state of California, created by an engineering accident and maintained through agricultural runoff, this eco-catastrophe has become the major home for many migrating birds. Or had. In the past decade, as Stringfellow demonstrates, the increasingly salty and toxic sea, has increasingly killed off its fishy inhabitants--and its birds along with them. Perhaps we need to save this accident--but how?

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