UA student co-authoring 'Southwest'

By Keith Allen

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Authors of the Southwest and its written and "aural" tradition are the center of a book co-authored by a UA doctoral student and a University of New Mexico professor.

Sara Spurgeon, a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the UA English Department, has been working for almost four years on the book, Writing the Southwest, with David Dunaway of the University of New Mexico's English Department.

Writing the Southwest is a collection of 14 different mini-stories or narratives of Southwest authors, Spurgeon said.

"It (the book's topic) comes out of the land the UA student inhabits," Spurgeon said. "It (the book) shows stuff that springs out of the world around you."

And that world contains a literature that is "vibrant," on the "cutting edge" and produced in the Southwest, Spurgeon said.

"The Southwest is a unique section of American society because of the landscape and the mixed culture," Spurgeon said.

The book features such authors as Hillerman, Joy Harjo, Terry McMillan, Simon Ortiz, Edward Abbey, Barbara Kingsolver, Denise Chavez, Frank Waters, John Nichols, Alberto Rios, Stan Steiner, Luci Tapahonso, and Linda Hogan.

"It is a radio series that grew into a book," Dunaway said.

The book is a companion volume to the radio series under the same title. Spurgeon wrote script for some of the radio series, which Dunaway produced, but was asked by Dunaway to help turn the scripts into a book.

Spurgeon, who was then enrolled at the University of New Mexico as a graduate student, accepted the chance to co-author with Dunaway.

Dunaway, who has written other books such as Aldous Huxley Recollected (An Oral History) and How Can I Keep From Singing: Pete Seeger, said he had done all the research for the radio program and had handed it over to Spurgeon to do the book.

"I'm very pleased to see the projects come to fruition," UA English professor Larry Evers said.

Spurgeon said it was easier to write the book than she thought, even though she was at the UA studying for her doctorate and away from her co-author. She said that she usually wrote short fiction, but that didn't cause any problems.

Spurgeon wrote a novel over the summer and said she and Dunaway are considering writing a companion volume to Writing the Southwest.

Dunaway came to the university last Friday to promote and discuss the book as well as promote the radio program in Tucson.

The radio program will air beginning Oct. 22 at noon on KUAZ 89.9FM and KUAT 1550AM, and air 13 consecutive Sundays at the same time. It also will be on KSCI 91.3FM on Fridays at 6:30 p.m., Dunaway said.

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