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Revisiting 'Air Mail' On Wednesday's Access Utah

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  When the state of Colorado ordered its residents to shelter in place in response to the spread of coronavirus, writers Pam Houston and Amy Irvine—who had never met—began a correspondence based on their shared devotion to the rugged, windswept mountains that surround their homes, one on either side of the Continental Divide.

As the numbers of infected and dead rose and the nation split dangerously over the crisis, Houston and Irvine found their letters to one another as necessary as breath. Torrey House Press has collected those letters and the result is a new book. “Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place” is part tribute to wilderness, and part indictment against tyranny and greed, and reveals the evolution of a friendship that galvanizes as it chronicles a strange new world. 

PAM HOUSTON is the author of the memoir, “Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country,” as well as two novels, “Contents May Have Shifted” and “Sight Hound,” two collections of short stories, “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat,” and a collection of essays, “A Little More About Me.” She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and is Professor of English at UC Davis, and cofounder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. She lives at nine thousand feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.  

AMY IRVINE is a sixth-generation Utahn and long-time public lands activist. Her books include “Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness.” Her memoir, “Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land,” received the Orion Book Award, the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, and the Colorado Book Award. Irvine teaches in the MFA program of Southern New Hampshire University. She lives and writes off the grid in southwest Colorado, just spitting distance from her Utah homeland.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.