Talking about the Grand Canyon with Nathaniel Brodie

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Nathaniel Brodie is a Nevada-based author who will be returning to the University of Arizona to sit as a panelist for three events at the Tucson Festival of Books.

The panels are: “Canyon Perspectives: Celebrating 100 Years of the Grand Canyon,” “The Grand Canyon and American Culture” and “Essays – Climate Change in National Parks.”

As the Grand Canyon will be celebrating its 100th anniversary as a national park this year, “a number of panels were organized around that and around national parks, in general, which of course is just a very popular subject for writers,” Brodie said.

Brodie received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Creative Writing in 2010 from the UA. He has written essays, including “Order and Entropy”, which can be found in several magazines, anthologies and journals. Brodie’s debut book, “Steel on Stone: Living and Working the Grand Canyon”, was published in January 2019. 

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“Steel on Stone” is a memoir based on Brodie’s nine seasons as part of the Grand Canyon Trail Crew, which gave him a unique perspective in writing his book.

“There’s this huge sub-culture of seasonal workers throughout … both the Park Service and the Forest Service as federal employees but also as people who work in lodges and restaurants throughout the national parks,” he said. “I’ve been involved in that sub-culture for years and years and … you don’t really hear much about their stories and where they come from, and being a part of that culture, I was just fascinated by it.”

Brodie said he will have the opportunity to read an excerpt from his book during one of the panels he will be on.

“For me, the Grand Canyon is this inexhaustible source of things to talk about, because so much of things that are happening in the world are happening there,” Brodie said. “You can talk about climate change, you can talk about racial disparities in tourist numbers, you can go on and on and somehow it’ll root down to the Grand Canyon.”

Brodie’s next book will focus on the borderlands region and the Sky Islands region of Arizona. His goal is to finish this book in the next few years, especially as the topic of borders has become so relevant in today’s culture. 

While visiting for TFOB, Brodie will take some additional time to conduct field research for another project of his.


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