Archives of Headwaters XI

Headwaters XI Featured Speaker: John Nichols

Reading & Discussion:

  • 4:00-5:00, Friday, Nov. 3

Headwaters Keynote Address:

  • 7:30, Friday, Nov. 3

Both events take place in the College Union.

About John Nichols

Headwaters keynoter John Nichols is a long-time resident of Taos, New Mexico, the setting for his best-known works, “The New Mexico Trilogy,” The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey, and The Nirvana Blues. The middle book of that trilogy, The Magic Journey is probably his most impressive work to date. In that book, set in the mythic community of “Chamisaville” (a lot like Taos), Nichols chronicles the relentless conversion of an indigenous agrarian community based on barter and shared labor, to a high-stakes, cash-based resort economy, with the native population all either “converted” or disappeared. This is not just a “local tale”; in an essay, Nichols notes that he based some of economics in the book on a 1972 study of socioeconomic change in a Vermont ski resort town, and much of his story is applicable to any Colorado mountain valley today.

His most recent book is a collection of essays called Dancing on the Stones — many of them talks that he has delivered to other gatherings around the West in recent years, running the gamut from the EPA to the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. These essays range from lyrical-scientific pieces on subjects like clouds or stock ponds, to eulogies for friends, to all-out ranting diatribes against “a world where nothing makes sense if you are worried about the survival of intelligent life on earth.” One essay is a wry and hilarious reflection on his most “successful” work, The Milagro Beanfield War, and the movie Robert Redford made from it, an essay called “Night of the Living Beanfield: How an Unsuccessful Cult Novel Became an Unsuccessful Cult Film in Only Fourteen Years, Eleven Nervous Breakdowns, and $20 Million.”

Author of Fiction:

  • “The New Mexico Trilogy”:
    • The Milagro Beanfield War (1974, also the screenplay)
    • The Magic Journey (1978)
    • The Nirvana Blues (1981)
  • The Sterile Cuckoo (1965, also the screenplay)
  • The Wizard of Loneliness (1966, also the screenplay)
  • A Ghost in the Music (1979)
  • American Blood (1987)
  • An Elegy for Summer (1992)
  • Conjugal Bliss (1994)

And Non-fiction:

  • If Mountains Die (1979)
  • The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn (1982)
  • A Fragile Beauty (1987)
  • The Sky's the Limit (1990)
  • Keep It Simple (1993)
  • Dancing on the Stones (2000)

John Nichols' visit to the Gunnison valley is made possible by the Colorado Council on the Arts and the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities.