Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Last Cheater's Waltz

The Last Cheater's Waltz

Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest

Ellen Meloy

Henry Holt and Co.



From the recipient of the 1997 Whiting Award.

Feeling disconnected from the wildly beautiful desert that she has known intimately for twenty years, award-winning writer Ellen Meloy embarks on a search for home that is historical, scientific, and spiritual. Her "Map of the Known Universe," devised to guide her quest, reveals extraordinary details of a physical link between the atomic age and her home on Utah's San Juan River. The Map grows to include Los Alamos, the Trinity A-test site, White Sands Missile Range, and primary sources of uranium.

Meloy casts her naturalist's eye on the Southwest's "geography of consequence," where she finds unusual local bestiaries, the bodies of long-buried neighbors, an underground bubble of nuclear physics in a national forest, and the rich textures of nature on her own eight acres of land. The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest is multilayered and far-reaching, yet always infused with Meloy's prodigious research, finely tuned prose, and wry humor.


Praise for The Last Cheater's Waltz

“Funny, joyous, great-hearted--a brilliant storyteller.” —William Kittredge

“Exuberant, smart, irreverent.” —Terry Tempest Williams

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Ellen Meloy

Ellen Meloy (1946-2004) is the recipient of a 1997 Whiting Award and, previously, a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for her book Raven's Exile (Owl Books). Meloy lived in southeastern Utah.

Ellen Meloy

Ellen Meloy