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Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton April 1, 2007

Posted by pvccbookclub in Current Discussion.

Going Back to Bisbee is the reading selection for the 2007 OneBook Arizimage of book coverona initiative.

The author, Richard Shelton, moved to Bisbee in 1958 and his book explores the rich and often turbulent history of the town and of southern Arizona generally. He describes the relationships between Mexico, Arizona,  and the Apaches and other native american tribes and groups that define the area. He also discusses the incredible natural life of southern Arizona, and what impact environmental degration has had on the native wildlife and flora.  Going Back to Bisbee won the 1992 Western States Creative Nonfiction Book Award.

Question to consider for discussion:

1. Shelton describes in great detail his observations of and relationships with some wild animals including coyotes, a snake and squirrels. He is quite friendly with the snake but squirrels become his despised enemies. How do Shelton’s relationships with animals reflect his sense of place?

2. Shelton explores ghost towns and ruins from mining and stamp mills left by nineteenth century Arizonans. His stories illustrate the changing marks that people left on the land, and lead one to wonder how will future generations view us? What kinds of enduring marks are we leaving on the land?

3. Shelton states that Arizonans have not gotten to know or love rivers very much. Do you agree with this statement? Why does he consider it miraculous that the San Pedro River still flows?

4.  Shelton describes the Apaches as treacherous throughout the book. Does he ever describe events from the Apache point of view? What do you think of his viewpoint in relation to this tribe?

5. What is your overall assessment of this book? What book would you choose for a community-wide reading initiative like OneBook AZ. Do you think it has to be a book written by an Arizona author, or set in Arizona?