“[T]here are few living writers more at home in desert country than Berger . . . Berger’s essays in [A Desert Harvest] are pleasures to read.” ―Kirkus (

“Capturing the effects of arid yet vibrant landscapes on the psyche . . . these lyrical, usually brief pieces delight . . . Berger imbues his rich images with an enticing sense of narrative possibility and symbolic meaning.” ―Publishers Weekly (





Books-End-of-the-SherryChosen as an Indie Ground Breaking Novel

“Raucous adventure transpires… Berger writes richly and animatedly about the people he met, the places he explored, the spiritual subjects he parsed, and the unforgettable experiences he lived to the fullest during his time in Spain… Berger’s dynamic and lively prose, proves thoroughly infectious…”

– Craig Manning, Independent Publisher Magazine (Read the entire interview)

THE END OF THE SHERRY recounts what happens to a young American who finds himself abandoned in southern Spain in 1965 with a dog and a dubious car, stumbles into work as a nightclub pianist, and stays for three improbable years. Berger’s adventures blossom into a portrait of provincial Spain toward the end of the Franco dictatorship — bleakness that breaks into unexpected hilarity even as the author discovers his calling as a person and a writer. His return to Spain after the death of Franco puts it all into perspective.

A kinetic memoir… an engrossing adventure.
Lovely anecdotes follow one after another, a connoisseur’s selection painted with specificity and a bright palette. When Berger wrestles with the meaning of cachondeo, he defines the picaresque nature of his own existence.
— New York Journal of Books
Read the entire review

The_Telling_Distance_Cover_02The Telling Distance:
1990 Western States Book Award Jury Citation:

“We know that nothing is so hard to see as the great seeming emptiness of the deserts. It is difficult for us to imagine connecting to the uninhabited enormities of such space… As Berger says, we are the oasis we seek. This book is beautifully, precisely SAID.”

1990 Jury Panel : N. Scott Momaday, Elizabeth Hardwick, William Kittredge, Jorie Graham.

Bruce Berger’s essays are bright and gritty, his observations on the desert sharp, provocative, and useful. This is a wonderful and valuable collection of work.”

Barry Lopez

“With his naturalist’s eye and poet’s sensibility, Bruce Berger has written a book that will stick to the reader like cholla. Environmental witness-bearers are many, but precious few are those who can write this well. The Telling Distance shimmers with intelligence, sensitivity, and Berger’s quirky curiosity.”

Ted Conover

“Fine, lucid essays on the desert and its environs by a thoughtful, observant and very able writer.”

Peter Matthiessen

“This volume belongs on the shelf with all great desert literature…. His prose is as perfectly adapted to his thoughts as cacti are to the desert.


“The ‘telling distance’ is not only between the observer and observed but between an author and his material – a distance that Berger in nearly every essay, masterfully surveys.”

The Kansas City Star

“Berger leaves the reader wanting to look harder and breathe quieter, to be aware in the clear white light of the southwestern desert.”


There Was A River:
“I enjoyed Berger’s introduction so much, I could have stopped right there. In fact, the final sentence of this delightful composition I have taped to the wall next to my computer, so perceptive a statement I believe it makes about the best and worst of being a desert rat…. This is a book written by a real desert rat, for real desert rats.”

Desert Skies

“Berger is eloquent, emotional but always reasonable in his examination of faulty motivations and bureaucratic gameplaying…. His skilled language and extraordinary descriptions of this land of ‘pink geology’ will captivate readers, even those who have never traveled west of the Mississippi.”
— Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

“The lead essay in this terrific collection is a moving tribute to an area and to what was lost…. Like a less feisty but equally eloquent Edward Abbey, Berger captures the soul of the sandy abyss.”
— Yale Alumni Magazine

Yale Alumni Magazine

Almost an Island:
“It’s in Berger’s blood – a three decade obsession with the ‘eight hundred mile dead end’ that is Baja California. Here is a wide-eyed writer with the curiosity, patience and observational skills to follow leads, pursue histories and apply the artistry that takes the reader down the same paths he visits…. There’s geology, natural history, religion, desert rats, environmental issues, Mexican politics, music and adventure. There’s disapointment and maturity and, above all, humor.
Berger is clearly guided by the inner lizard that lives within all desert-lovers – scurrying in and out of crevices, basking upon rocks in the sun.”

Los Angeles Times

“Lucky for us, Bruce Berger is one of those cursed to have been there when. Berger is a poet, a pianist and an elegant prose stylist who lifted onto his broad verbal shoulders the ambitious task of writing a memoir of his 30-year attachment to the Baja peninsula…. the right voice in the right pitch in the right place at the right time….

San Diego Tribune

“In prose as glittering as this desert engulfed by the sea, Almost an Island is a fascinating journey into the heart of a spectacular land.”
— Books of the Southwest

Books of the Southwest

“Writing with the grace of nightfall, Berger knits a handful of chance encounters together with cultural and natural history to produce a crystalline, idiosyncratic portrait of Baja…Since in the literature there was ‘no agreed-upon peninsula, I would assemble my own from available parts,’ writes Berger at the beginning of the book. Just so, and stunningly.”

Kirkus Reviews

Facing the Music:
“In his first collection of poems, Bruce Berger faces the music with keen ears and sharp eyes. Insightful and resonant, these poems vibrate with feeling and understanding not only of music but of life, love, and the pursuit of meaning. The voices ring true, the cadences and rhymes are nuanced and subtle, the subjects are at once unique and universal. Facing the Music is filled with poems that speak to the head and to the heart. They leave a lasting resonance.”

Eugenia Zukerman

“It is in the title poem, ‘Facing the Music’, that Berger reaches the apogee of his art: sophisticated, ordinary, elegant, slangy, at once remote and feeling, the rhymes slanted toward, then away, from dissonance, the stanzas in fact evoking at least to my ear those of Spenser’s ‘Epithalamion’, another evocation of time and its passage, and which sums up with as cruel and necessary a tenderness its uncoiling evolutions…. For all its bristling complexity, there is clarity here, and in the other poems of this collection, which has simply, for the most part, been absent from American poetry for many years…. For pleasure and challenging engagement, as well as for opening one’s ear to the voice of an important living poet, I recommend this collection without reservation.”