On the Way Home

The literary map of New Mexico includes the names of many wellknown writers. To the north, in the heavily publicized vicinity of Santa Fe and Taos, are Rudolfo Anaya, John Nichols, Haniel Long, Erna Fergusson, Mary Austin, Paul Horgan. Dotting the redrock canyons and high mesas of the west are a roster of Native Americans: Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, N. Scott Momaday, Luci Tapahonso. To the south, in the dusty Tularosa Valley where Billy the Kid made his way into history, lies the territory of Eugene Manlove Rhodes. Nearby, one finds Ross Calvin and, every now and again, Larry McMurtry.

The map is pitch-black with ink everywhere but the section marking the high grasslands to the north of the Black Mountains, between Socorro and Springerville on the Arizona line. This stretch of west-central New Mexico is fine, mile-plus-high, lonesome country, visited by archivists of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930's and by astronomers from around the world today, who come by to check in on the so-called Very Large Array of radio telescopes (featured in the film 2010) near the hamlet of Magdalena. Apart from the occasional hunter and a few scattered ranch families, the area doesn't see much in the way of human beings.

In the late 1970's, Stephen Bodio, a Boston-based writer, amateur naturalist, and falconer, happened into Magdalena on the way somewhere else. He never left. With his friend Betsy Huntington,...

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