Former Montezuma-Cortez High School English teacher David Feela has published a travel guide for area residents who arent going anywhere.
The book contains bite-sized vignettes and musings about the Four Corners area. Feela said the book was not planned, but put together out of a stack of essays and columns he wrote for other publications over more than 15 years.
How did an avalanche start? he said. Theres that little pebble on top of the mountain. It starts rolling and gathering. Over the years, I just wrote and wrote and wrote.
The book, entitled How Delicate These Arches, is expected to be available in the coming weeks.
A poet and former M-CHS English teacher between 1982 and 2007, Feela has produced writing that abandons the pretentious tone of academia for the casual tone of a curious and quirky observer of the world around him. Although he has lived in the area for nearly 30 years, Feela said he likes to look at the area as if he were a visitor.
I know that Im not one of the valley, he said. Im still just a newcomer. But Im not a tourist anymore. ... I try to see the place through the eyes of someone who is visiting.
To that end, Feela said the book is somewhat of a travel guide for the metaphorical tourist.
When you come to a place to live and become part of that place, you are really a tourist, he said. Theres a lot of people who maybe hole up where they are. They put up their walls and defend where they are. Then they start exploring the place around them. That exploration is not just places. Its people, politics culture in general. And thats where my camera has been focused.
The books sense of place is so deeply rooted in Four Corners, the reader can almost smell juniper and sage brush on the pages. From adventures in wrangling skunk and emu to an analysis of local housing Feelas whimsical writing takes a look at area culture from a perspective where anthropology and humor collide.
Feelas essays touch on the areas grandiose subdivisions left over from before the housing bust.
Genesis asserts the universe was created in six stages, Feela writes. If I accept this account, then the Garden of Eden qualifies as the earths first subdivision. Strictly speaking, the tenants violated some sort of unwritten lease or covenant agreement, resulting in their eviction. Since then, real estate may have evolved, but precedents have been established.
Feela titled one essay The Trailers of Montezuma County a tribute to the 1995 Clint Eastwood film The Bridges of Madison County. He discusses his time living in a mobile home.
It is fair to say that a trailer does not have the investment potential of a ranchette with a massively imposing entrance gate, he writes. Maybe so, but Id rather spend my days renovating the past than making payments on someone elses future.
From the book, it is clear to the reader that puns are a favorite literary toy of the author. The title itself is a play on words.
The column that I actually wrote for the longest time was called Footnotes From the Four Corners for Inside Outside Magazine, Feela said, saying the title also refers to the arches of his feet as well as the geologic formations. I was playing with the joke of how tired, how worn, how fragile my walking arches were. But then, of course, with some talk and suggestions, I realized that Im really talking about the way those arches are that theyve formed over time, and you go, Wow how could that be standing? Its just this masterpiece of natural engineering. I think as a people, as a culture, as a region, were like that. We put in place all the stuff that we work with to make our lives. And everything we hold up, as a culture, is delicate is fragile.
The books subjects start out close to home for Feela, then gradually expand to surrounding public lands and then to the world beyond.
It starts from my home, and it moves on down the driveway and out into the larger world of this region, he said. I think as a people, we need to be able to see beyond our driveways. Its not where the world ends, at our gate.
In one essay, the author pokes fun at national health care by attempting to seek medical advice from pharmaceutical commercials on his television.
These medical dilemmas on television were not running out of patients, but I was, Feela writes. Diseased incarnations fashioned as artery blockages, irritable bowels, high cholesterol, migraines, skin rashes, hair loss, and diarrhea made their way into my living room and offered themselves to me like voodoo dolls. When I turned the television off, I felt worse than when I sat down. Because every medical scenario had been marketed to appeal to me, to encourage me to consult a doctor, armed with a crib sheet full of symptoms and a shopping list full of drugs.
Feela also has penned Thought Experiments, a collection of poetry. His work has been published in the Four Corners Free Press, the Denver Post, Utne Reader, and with Writers on the Range. He was also contributing editor and columnist for Inside Outside Magazine.
The book will debut 5 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Cortez Public Library. It may also be available in the coming weeks through the Ravens Eye Press website, ravenseyepress.com.
Reach Reid Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.