The new anthology Rio Grande chronicles the life and troubled times of a fabled river
The week before I sat down to read Rio Grande, a thick new anthology about the famed river edited by Texas scribe Jan Reid, a strange sight appeared on the actual Rio Grande outside the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas. A fiberglass statue of Jesus was discovered grounded on a sandbar in the river, drawing faithful visitors from both sides of the border to its river-stained robes. Admittedly, little connects the literature of the river and the religious relic that appeared there this fall — except, perhaps, this: the contributors to the book and the worshipers of the statue share the conviction that the river needs a savior.
That’s one conclusion made crystal clear by this literary-minded collection, which pulls together a kaleidoscope of sources into a nearly definitive volume focused not just on the ecology of the Rio Grande but also its history and the cultures that have relied upon it for the last 15,000 years, from natives to conquistadors, cowboys to smugglers, farmers to migrant workers.