Nancy's Bookshelf: Author Sherry Leonard And Songwriter Garrett Gray

Jun 12, 2019

Book cover for Sherry Leonard's "Atacama."
Credit Sherry Leonard

When retired professor Sherry Leonard was married to a mining engineer some years ago, they lived in northern Chile in the Atacama Desert.  Her novel, Atacama, is a fictionalized version of her experiences those five years.

Chico singer/songwriter Garrett Gray describes how he came to write the lyrics to the songs on his first album, “Five Winds”.


Credit Sherry Leonard

About Atacama:

Gerritt Wells, a young mining engineer with relationship issues and a fear of crowding, escapes from Montana to the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, to work in an open-pit copper mine. The stark land itself is part of his story. The huge open-pit copper mine employs both Gringos and Chilenos, creating unrest. Gerritt marries the sensual retarded daughter of the mine manager to get ahead. There are problems with the Union, a mine strike, an explosion in the mine, and growing tensions between Gerritt and others.

The benches in the open pit, begun early in the century, were built too steeply and part of the mine eventually collapses. The coming failure, a thunderous waterfall of rock, mirrors Gerritt’s descent into self promotion and dependence on unreliable things. Disappointment powers his desire to keep the mine running after the collapse. He destroys himself driving a dozer out onto the slide to fix it.



Credit Garrett Gray

From Garett Gray’s Bandcamp:

Garrett Gray is a Chico, Calif. songwriter known for performing across the north state with his previous band, Perpetual Drifters. Gray has been recognized by the Chico News & Review with CAMMIE awards in the categories of Best Songwriter as well as Best Male Vocalist.