In the late 1970s, Stephen Bodio, a Boston-based writer, amateur naturalist, and falconer, happened into Magdalena, New Mexico, on the way somewhere else. He never left. With an assortment of birds, dogs, snakes, and books, he took up residence in a ramshackle two-story house along US 60 and set out to live in the way of country people."Querencia"--the Zen-like Spanish term means something like the tiny pocket of one's inner life where one is truly at home--details a decade of life there.
Throughout the early pages of his memoir, Stephen finds himself tested by the locals for his knowledge of raptor birds, of snakes, of dogs. When he begins to pass the tests, his transformation is complete, earning him a home, a place in the heart. Querencia offers a fine brief on rural living, alternately reveling in country matters and acknowledging the difficulties involved in such exercises as luring cows home from the mountain wilderness into which they've strayed while steering clear of venomous reptiles and combative bull elk. It's a treasure. (summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This was a book was a pleasant surprise. Not having specific expectations, “Querencia” was a fascinating memoir of a non-traditional (to put it mildly) couple who carved out a mini-paradise for themselves in Magdalena. What made this book so interesting was Bodio’s gift for evoking vivid landscapes that easily transport the reader to a land unlike any other.
Sometimes evocative, sometimes funny, the memoir is in the form of a personal essay. It is a commemoration to Bodio and his wife’s unconventional relationship and how it changed both their lives forever. By the end of the book, I felt like one of the family. I recommend this book as a quick escape-ism book, but don’t expect a travel adventure.
Rating: 3 stars!
Who Should Read It? People looking for travel by book or interested in naturalism, falcons and lots of dogs.