In Books on July 8, 2011 at 6:19 am
ATLANTIC MAGAZINE (1901)
There is a fine antidote to all manner of morbidness in the brilliant pages of Kim. Mr. Kipling’s last work is, to my mind, his best, and not easily comparable with the work of any other man; for it is of its own kind and of a novel kind, and fairly amazes one by the proof it affords of the author’s magnificent versatility. “Not much of a story” may perhaps be the verdict of the ruthless boy reader who revels in the Jungle Book and Captain Courageous, and derives an unholy gratification from Stalky & Co. Kim is, in fact and upon the surface, but an insignificant fragment of human history; a bit out of the biography of a little vagabond of Irish parentage, orphaned when a baby, and left to shift for himself in infinite India. But the subtlety of the East and the “faculty” of the West are blended in this terroe filius, this tricksy foundling of earth’s oldest earth. His adventures are many and enthralling. He joins himself, as scout and general provider,—incidentally, also, as chela or disciple—to a saintly old lama from Thibet, “bound to the Wheel of Things,” and roaming India in search of the Stream of Immortality. The pious people of the country are permitted to “acquire merit” by feeding and lodging these two, between whom there grows up More…
In Around the web, Books on June 29, 2011 at 9:21 am
From BARRY ESTABROOK
In Vermont, where I live, as in much of the rest of the United States, a gardener can select pretty much any sunny patch of ground, dig a small hole, put in a tomato seedling, and come back two months later and harvest something. Not necessarily a bumper crop of plump, unblemished fruits, but something. When I met Monica Ozores-Hampton, a vegetable specialist with the University of Florida, I asked her what would happen if I applied the same laissez-faire horticultural practices to a tomato plant in Florida. She shot me a sorrowful, slightly condescending look and replied, “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” I asked.
“There would be nothing left of the seedling,” she said. “Not a trace. The soil here doesn’t have any nitrogen, so it wouldn’t have grown at all. The ground holds no moisture, so unless you watered regularly, the plant would certainly die. And, if it somehow survived, insect pests, bacteria, and fungal diseases would destroy it.” How can it be, then, that Florida is the source for one-third of the fresh tomatoes Americans eat? More Tomatoland…
In Books on June 25, 2011 at 8:26 am
From THE INDEPENDENT UK
Thanks to Ron Epstein
Read a book with your laptop thrumming. It can feel like trying to read in the middle of a party where everyone is shouting
In the 20th century, all the nightmare-novels of the future imagined that books would be burnt. In the 21st century, our dystopias imagine a world where books are forgotten. To pluck just one, Gary Steynghart’s novel Super Sad True Love Story describes a world where everybody is obsessed with their electronic Apparat – an even more omnivorous i-Phone with a flickering stream of shopping and reality shows and porn – and have somehow come to believe that the few remaining unread paper books let off a rank smell. The book on the book, it suggests, is closing.
I have been thinking about this because I recently moved flat, which for me meant boxing and heaving several Everests of books, accumulated obsessively since I was a kid. Ask me to throw away a book, and I begin shaking like Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice and insist that I just couldn’t bear to part company with it, no matter how unlikely it is I will ever read (say) a 1,000-page biography of little-known Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar. As I stacked More Books…
In Around the web, Books on June 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm
From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
Excerpts from The Wealth of Nature, 2011
The end of the Information Age
Very few people realize just how extravagant a supply of resources goes to maintain the information economy. The energy cost to run a home computer is modest enough that it’s rarely noticed, for example, that each one of the big server farms that keep today’s social websites up and running use as much electricity as a midsized city. Multiply that by the tens of thousands of server farms that keep today’s online economy going, and the hundreds of other energy-intensive activities that go into maintaining the Internet and manufacturing the equipment it uses, and it may start to become clear how much energy goes into putting pretty pictures and text onto your computer screen…
The gigawatts used by server farms are not the only unnoticed energy that goes into the Internet, though; putting those gigawatts to work requires an electrical grid spanning most of a continent, backed up by the immense inputs of coal and natural gas that put electricity into the wires, and a network of supply chains that stretches from coal mines to power plants to the oil wells that provide diesel fuel for trains and excavation machines…
More Economic Survival…
In Around the web, Books on June 16, 2011 at 7:33 am
From JENNIFER M.
As the local food movement expands and the numbers of small farms, CSA programs, and farmers markets increase, so grows the crop of cookbooks aimed at helping people make the best use of that seasonal bounty. Following in the path of Deborah Madison’s excellent overview of America’s farmers markets, Local Flavors, two new cookbooks share the joys of regional harvests throughout the year.
The first, Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes, bases its recipes in the old and new traditions of New England agriculture. This collaboration between dietitian Diane Imrie and chef Richard Jarmusz combines a healthy approach to eating with simple preparations that enhance the fresh flavors of local fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meats. While many recipes take old favorites and spruce them up for More Cookbooks…
In Around the web, Books on June 6, 2011 at 6:26 am
Novelist Ann Patchet has a knack for taking her readers to completely new places. In 2002′s Bel Canto, she blended terrorism and opera and now — several acclaimed books and almost a decade later — Patchett’s out with a new novel about an Amazonian expedition.
State of Wonder [Available to rent from Mulligan Books: $2/week] follows medical researcher Marina Singh as she joins her former mentor in a search to discover a promising and valuable new drug in the Amazon. Patchett tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden that she spent 10 days in the Amazon to get a feel for the book’s setting.
“For the first three days, I thought it was the most extraordinarily beautiful, fascinating, all-encompass[ingly] gorgeous place More Ann Patchett…
In Around the web, Books on June 4, 2011 at 8:18 am
From E.F. (FRITZ) SCHUMACHER
The New Economics Institute
Chapter 1: The Problem of Production
One of the most fateful errors of our age is the belief that “the problem of production” has been solved.
The arising of this error, so egregious and so firmly rooted, is closely connected with the philosophical, not to say religious, changes during the last three or four centuries in man’s attitude to nature…Modern man does not experience himself as a part of nature but as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it. He even talks of a battle with nature, forgetting that, if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side.
The illusion of unlimited powers, nourished by astonishing scientific and technological achievements, has produced the concurrent illusion More Schumacher
In Books on May 21, 2011 at 7:37 am
From SAUL ALINSKY
The American people were, in the beginning, Revolutionaries and Tories. The American people ever since have been Revolutionaries and Tories regardless of the labels of the passed and present. Regardless of whether they were Federalists, Democrat-Republicans, Whigs, Know-Nothings, Free Soilers, Unionists or Confederates, Populists, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, or Progressives. They have been and are profiteers and patriots. They have been and are conservatives, liberals, and radicals.
The class of radicals, conservatives, and liberals which makes up America’s political history opens the door to the most fundamental question of what is America? How do the people of America feel? It is in the feeling that the real story of America is written. There were and are a number of Americans — few, to be sure — filled with deep feeling for people. They know that people are the stuff that makes up the dream of democracy. These few were and are More Alinsky…
In Books on May 21, 2011 at 7:13 am
From THOM HARTMANN
With any book, one of the most important pieces of that work is its frame or context. In “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky lays out his largest frame brilliantly in his chapter “The Purpose” when he talks about class distinctions.
“The setting for the drama of change has never varied. Mankind has been and is divided into three parts: the Haves and Have-Nots, and the Have-A-Little, Want Mores.”
Alinsky then includes a social critique worthy of writers from Thomas Hobbes to John Locke to Thomas Malthus to Karl Marx. In many ways, he summarizes the meta-story of most of Charles Dickens’ novels (Dickens’ father had spent time in a debtors prison). For example:
“On the top are the Haves with power, money, food, security, and luxury. They suffocate in their surpluses while the Have-Nots starve. Numerically, the Haves have always been More Alinsky…
In Books on May 19, 2011 at 6:35 am
From FRANK KAMINSKI
Mud City Press
Via Energy Bulletin
Why does neoliberal capitalism fail to see that in ravaging the biosphere it’s spelling its own demise (with the Stern Review memorably calling climate change “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen”)?
There are two common reactions to news about our species’ present-day crisis. One is confusion and bewilderment arising from the fact that even the experts can’t seem to agree on which threats are real or what to do about them. The other is despair at the sheer number of crises and the dire implications of each, which can eventually lead to tune-out, apathy and annoyance whenever they’re mentioned. Neither response is productive, and thus there’s a dawning recognition on the part of experts, activists and educators that the way in which these issues are presented to the public must change if we’re to keep people engaged.
One person calling for such a change in focus is international security analyst Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. More User’s Guide…
In Books on May 17, 2011 at 7:40 am
From KENNETH TURAN
The fascinating documentary gives the back story of the book and its author, including interviews with people who know Lee and celebrities who are fans of the book.
Many books and films have partisans who insist their works are loved and admired by the American people, but “To Kill a Mockingbird” is the real thing.
The Harper Lee novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has sold nearly 50 million copies in the 50 years since its publication. And when the U.S. Postal Service recently issued a stamp honoring “Mockingbird” star Gregory Peck, it used a still from that Oscar-winning performance as its image.
But what of Nelle Harper Lee, the young Southern writer from Monroeville, Ala., whose reaction to all this success, she said in a radio interview, was one of “sheer numbness, being hit over the head and knocked cold.” What has happened to her? Why hasn’t she given any interviews since 1964 or written any other novels since this remarkable success?
Writer-director Mary McDonagh Murphy addresses these questions and others in her documentary “Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’” More Harper Lee…
In Books, Garden Farm Skills on May 6, 2011 at 8:18 am
From THE ETHICUREAN
[Our own local CSA farms are now taking memberships for the season: Paula and Adam of Mendocino Organics, the Decater family of Live Power Community Farm, and Tom Palley of Covelo Organic... and the new season starts tomorrow 5/6/11 for our local Farmers Markets. -DS]
The first time I heard of Essex Farm, I was working a kitchen/garden internship at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. The school sent me to the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 2009 conference, where I carefully chose workshops I thought would help me plan and plant a garden that would serve the school’s kitchen. It was my first farm-y job, and it didn’t fit the usual master/apprentice approach: I had people I could ask questions, but there was no master — just me. I was in a little over my head, and I was nervous. But that didn’t stop me from taking a detour from what I thought was practical to a workshop that thoroughly intrigued me even though the people running it sounded insane.
The workshop was titled “Everything But Sushi” with a subtitle something like More Dirty Life…
In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya, Books on April 20, 2011 at 7:00 am
From JOHANN HARIJ
[Want to know what the Republicans are really trying to do to our democracy? Read on... -DS]
The perverse allure of a damaged woman
Ayn Rand is one of America’s great mysteries. She was an amphetamine-addicted author of sub-Dan Brown potboilers, who in her spare time wrote lavish torrents of praise for serial killers and the Bernie Madoff-style embezzlers of her day. She opposed democracy on the grounds that “the masses”—her readers—were “lice” and “parasites” who scarcely deserved to live. Yet she remains one of the most popular writers in the United States, still selling 800,000 books a year from beyond the grave. She regularly tops any list of books that Americans say have most influenced them. Since the great crash of 2008, her writing has had another Benzedrine rush, as Rush Limbaugh hails her as a prophetess. With her assertions that government is “evil” and selfishness is “the only virtue,” she is the patron saint of the tea-partiers and the death panel doomsters. So how did this little Russian bomb of pure immorality in a black wig become an American icon?
Two new biographies of Rand—Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns and Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller—try to puzzle out this question, showing how her arguments found an echo in the darkest corners of American political life. But the books work best, for me, on a level I didn’t expect. They are thrilling psychological portraits of a horribly damaged woman More Lunacy…
In Around the web, Books on April 17, 2011 at 10:40 am
From LA TIMES
Thanks to Ron Epstein
[Mortenson responds here]
An investigation by “60 Minutes” to be broadcast this weekend will cite multiple sources that contend some of the most inspiring stories in Greg Mortenson’s books “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools” are not true.
Significantly, Mortenson’s origin story — of being saved by a remote village in Afghanistan and promising to build a school for them — appears to be a fabrication.
In a news release, the television program explains: More Three Cups of Tea…
In Books on March 23, 2011 at 8:38 am
From AMANDA KOVATTANA
Thanks to Energy Bulletin
Fabulous feast of apocalypse storytelling set in Thailand. Peak oil, climate change, genetically modified seeds gone bad, new plant diseases, new plagues. Add to that, interesting mutant technology that produces giant elephant hybrids for factory work and the highly erotic android of the title. Plus assortment of low tech energy sources filling the gap where fossil fuel power once lubricated commerce.
I have to hand it to Mr. Bacigalupi for his skillful use of Thai culture. He preserved my favorite parts of my home country, except of course the sex trade. But then it has become obligatory to feature the sex trade in books set in Bangkok, so I’m not holding it against him. (Where you have farangs [Westerners] in Bangkok you must have the sex trade. It is as much a reflection on white men as it is a global fascination with this infamy of Thailand.) In fact he is a moralist about it, using the degrading forces of the industry to drive the plot.
He also juggled the complexity of Thai politics, our obsession with ghosts and the famous Thai smile to good effect, plus I greatly appreciated his native-like respect for the Thai royal family by allowing royal smarts to play a crucial part in the survival game. Combined with the subplots of the various characters each vying to further their agenda, I felt this to be an entirely accurate description of how the world of trade More Windup Girl…
In Around the web, Books on March 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm
From GINNY MESSINA
[Thanks to Ron Epstein: Response to book by author interviewed here]
Lierre Keith suffers from numerous chronic health problems. Unable to secure a diagnosis for most of them, she decided that the vegan diet she had followed for twenty years was to blame. But she wasn’t content to add a few animal products back to her diet. Instead, she set out to prove that healthy diets require copious amounts of animal foods and that small-scale animal farming is the answer to sustainability. To prove it, she has cobbled together information from websites (yes, she actually cites Wikipedia!) and a few popular pseudoscientific books.
It’s next to impossible to review this book; it is so packed with misinformation and confusion that refuting the claims could be another book itself. This is a long post, and it doesn’t begin to address all of the problems in The Vegetarian Myth.
I read the section on nutrition first. Since it’s my area of expertise, I figured it would give me some idea of the quality of her research and analysis. But quality isn’t at issue here because there is no research or analysis. Keith doesn’t bother with primary sources; she depends almost exclusively More Vegetarian Myth…
In Around Mendo Island, Books, Guest Posts on March 4, 2011 at 8:28 am
From TODD WALTON
“The poet’s only responsibility is to write fresh lines.” Charles Olson
With all due respect to the organization known as Poets & Writers, I have always felt that if there’s no poetry in the writing, who needs it? Oh, I suppose a Chemistry textbook needn’t be rife with lovely language, but in the best of worlds all writing would be touched by the writer’s experience of having read and appreciated great poetry and beautifully crafted prose.
I sold my first short story for actual dollars when I was twenty-five. The year was 1974 and the buyer was Cosmopolitan magazine. This was at the very end of the era when that historic magazine along with a few dozen other large-circulation magazines in America still published fiction. Eventually I would sell stories to teen magazines and men’s magazines, along with several more to Cosmo, as my agent called that trashy mag, but I assure you I wrote all my stories with The New Yorker and Esquire in mind. Alas, those lofty literary realms were off limits to the unwashed likes of me. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as I am wont to do.
That first story I sold was about a black female prizefighter who, through a series of bizarre events, gets a shot at fighting a top-ranked male welterweight boxer. More Todd Walton…
In Around the web, Books on February 17, 2011 at 8:16 am
From LOYD E. ESKILDSON
Basil & Spice Blog
Conventional wisdom is that more diagnosis, especially early diagnosis, means better medical care. Reality, says Dr. Gilbert Welch – author of “Overdiagnosed,” is that more diagnosis leads to excessive treatment that can harm patients, make healthy people feel less so and even cause depression, and add to escalating health care costs. In fact, physician Welch believes overdiagnosis is the biggest problem for modern medicine, and relevant to almost all medical conditions. Welch devotes most of his book to documenting his concerns via examples of early diagnosis efforts for hypertension, prostate cancer, breast cancer, etc. that caused patient problems.
Welch provides readers with four important and generalizable points. The first is that, while target guidelines are set by panels of experts, those experts bring with them biases and sometimes even monetary incentives from drug-makers, etc. Over the past decades many target levels have been changed (eg. blood pressure, cholesterol levels, PSA levels), dramatically increasing the number classified as having a particular condition. (Welch adds that prostate cancer can be found at any PSA level – about 8% for those with a PSA level of 1 or less, over 30% for those with a level exceeding 4; most are benign.)…
Full review here
See also Psychiatric Drugging of Infants and Toddlers in the US – Part I
…and New psychiatric disorders flag normal human behaviors as “diseases”
…and Fish oil supplements prevent mental illness; safe and effective alternative to antipsychotic drugs
…and A nutritional approach to psychiatry has been marginalized
…and more http://www.naturalnews.com/psychiatry.html
In Around the web, Books on February 12, 2011 at 8:25 am
From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World Blog
Brian Doyle’s Mink River is simply the best novel I have read in a decade. It is brilliantly and painstakingly crafted. It tells a wonderful and heart-warming story. It never manipulates. Its prose is pure poetry: Every word counts. Its characters are so contemporary and complex and familiar that they spring to life. And its message — about cultural transition driven by necessity, about the importance of community and of place and of resilience and of love — is essential and delivered with a power and richness that no non-fictional account could hope to match.
This is Dark Mountain-weight writing at its best. The kind of writing I now aspire to and intend to write, though mine will be poetry and song and film and vignette instead of book-length prose. I don’t have Doyle’s stamina. I only hope I can one day match his talent. Although Doyle has published ten books (most of them essays; he makes his living as an editor), this is his first published novel.
Both the style and ambition of Mink River are reminiscent of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The tale is one of an entire community, an entire ecosystem of rich human and non-human interaction, told from a bird’s-eye view, both when the bird (a crow named Moses) soars above and when he peers at the peculiar residents of Mink River More Dave Pollard…
In Around the web, Books on February 4, 2011 at 8:39 am
From MAKENNA GOODMAN
Holy Shit: The Secret Behind Creating Truly Sustainable Food
MG: When I moved to a farm in rural Vermont, I knew life would be a far cry from the New York literary world from whence I came. I knew even though plaid shirts, work boots, and waxed canvas coats cover the fashion magazines these days-life on a real farm has nothing to do with image or status. I do have to say, however, when I meet my old city friends on the streets of Brooklyn to hock eggs or pumpkins, I have been known to brag. Not about how amazing farm life is, or how well I can pitch hay, but rather, how familiar I am with shit these days. And how in awe I am of poop. I tell my friends about where my chickens leave their dollops, and how that’s actually money in the bank.
Shit rules my life-or at least it should, if I were a good farmer. More Gene Logsdon…
In Around the web, Books on January 19, 2011 at 8:53 am
From THE GUARDIAN UK
A hard-hitting study of the social effects of inequality has profound implications
Epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of The Spirit Level, don’t soft-soap their message. It is brave to write a book arguing that economies should stop growing when millions of jobs are being lost, though they may be pushing at an open door in public consciousness. We know there is something wrong, and this book goes a long way towards explaining what and why.
The authors point out that the life-diminishing results of valuing growth above equality in rich societies can be seen all around us. Inequality causes shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives; it increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction; it destroys relationships between individuals born in the same society but into different classes; and its function as a driver of consumption More Inequality…
In Books, Thom Hartmann Rebooting Series on January 12, 2011 at 8:28 am
From THOM HARTMANN
Article with footnotes here
Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice. — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Back in the late 1980s, when I ran an advertising agency in Atlanta, a multinational corporation approached us about producing its internal newsletter, a monthly eight-pager about the company’s goings-on in the United States, Mexico, and Japan. Not surprisingly, they wanted the newsletter produced in English, Spanish, and Japanese.
For our small agency trolling for clients, this corporation was a big fish—it could provide a good shot of cash for what was then a startup business with a half dozen employees—so I put a help-wanted ad in the local daily newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution Journal, for a graphic designer who was also fluent enough in those three languages to know how to set type and where to hyphenate words (the company was providing us with the text in the three languages). It was clearly a search for a needle More Thom Hartmann…
In Around the web, Books, Thom Hartmann Rebooting Series on January 4, 2011 at 9:27 am
From THOM HARTMANN
Article with footnotes here
War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. – John F. Kennedy
In 1981, in the midst of a wide-ranging conversation during a night flight across the Atlantic, I got one of the biggest foreign policy insights of my life. Ever since I heard it, it’s filtered my observations of the behavior of virtually every country in the world, particularly ours.
I’d gone to Uganda in 1980 to help start a program to feed the tens of thousands of people starving as a result of the 1978–1979 war, started when Uganda’s neighbor to the south, Tanzania, finally said “Enough!” to the atrocities perpetuated by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and invaded the country. They drove Amin out (he went to Libya first, then to Saudi Arabia, where he lived to a ripe old age in a palace, courtesy of the king and our oil dollars), but the Uganda-Tanzania War produced a disaster for the people of Uganda.
Our relief program was up and running, at least in infant form (it’s still there and operating), and African-American comedian and activist Dick Gregory agreed to go to Uganda with me to see it and to help publicize the starvation so we could raise funds in the United States to expand the program. As the two of us crossed the Atlantic, his first trip to the African continent and my third or fourth, we sat in the plane and drank red wine and talked of all sorts of things, including our common opposition to the Vietnam War back in the day.
In the middle of our discussion about the United States and its unfortunate military adventures abroad, Dick dropped on me the most profound comment More Thom Hartmann…
In Books on December 29, 2010 at 7:54 am
From PEAK OIL BLUES BLOG
A good novel is one that conjures images that linger. It creates characters that you feel a variety of emotions toward. The person stands in front of you and you can imagine interacting with them. You know whether you’d invite them to dinner or bar the door when they come knocking. A good novel does more than have a plot, an adventure, a tale. It brings you into the lives and times of the characters and gives you a chance to feel what they must feel, share their wishes and dreams, and hope along with them for the best (or the worst) as you move through the story. You sympathize, feel anger toward, want to comfort or hold your breath saying to yourself “No, don’t do that!” knowing quite well that the character will in fact do that very thing.
And you understand why.
For me then, as a clinical psychologist, a good novel is all about character development, even more so than it is about the demographics, diversity, or employment opportunities of those characters. Like a good meal, it leaves you satisfied after you finish it and haunts your thoughts. It may also bring lively debate…
The Witch of Hebron
Let me state for the record that I love the last two novels by James Howard Kunstler, and I’ll read every upcoming one eagerly. The characters have stayed with me, like friends I know, and I care about. I find no misstep in Kunstler’s novel for his lack of full-blown, in-depth female characters. Okay, so Jim’s women are courtesans, mystics/magicians, or wives, but I look at it this way: If you want vivid female characters, write your own novel. Or wait for his next installment. I don’t slam people for what they don’t write, I prefer to look at the stories they do tell, and this is a great continuing tale. Both books are a very entertaining More Witch of Hebron…
In Books on December 26, 2010 at 9:47 pm
From TWYLA THARP
Author, The Creative Habit
I read for a lot of reasons, pleasure being the least of them.
I read competitively, remembering Mark Twain’s admonition that “the man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.
Mostly, I read for inspiration. But what inspires me is probably not the same as what inspires or pleases the general populace. Although I’m interested in characters and story line and sheer information, I usually read with a specific purpose. I’m searching for patterns and archetypes, concepts and situations that are so basic to the human condition that they’ll connect with an audience in a fundamental way, whether or not the audience is aware of the connection.
I tend to read “archaeologically.” Meaning, I read backwards in time. I’ll start with a contemporary book and then move on to a text that predates that book, and so on until I’m reading the most ancient texts and the most primitive ideas. For example, when I was casting about for the project that ultimately became the Bacche piece, I began by reading Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. That hooked me on Dionysus, and led me back to Carl Kerenyi’s study of Dionysos, which explained the place of goats as part of the worship of Dionysus, and the connection to the development of Greek tragedy. From there it was back to Euripides, and the text of The Baccae, at last turning to a source that Jerome Robbins had suggested to me years earlier.
I don’t know if many people read archaeologically. A lot of people I know read chronologically: if they’re tackling all of Dostoyevsky, they start with his earliest works and plow through to his last writings, in much the same fashion as they did in school. More Tharp…
In Around the web, Books, Thom Hartmann Rebooting Series on December 7, 2010 at 5:30 am
From THOM HARTMANN
Article with footnotes: TruthOut
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.…Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right. —Thomas Jefferson
Talk Radio News Service, based in Washington, D.C., is owned and run by my dear friend Ellen Ratner. Ellen is an experienced and accomplished journalist, and a large number of interns and young journalism school graduates get their feet wet in reporting by working for and with her.
In March 2010 I was in Washington for a meeting with a group of senators, and I needed a studio from which to do my radio and TV show. Ellen was gracious enough to offer me hers. I arrived as three of her interns were producing a panel-discussion type of TV show for Web distribution at http://www.talkradionews.com, in which they were discussing for their viewing audience their recent experiences on Capitol Hill.
One intern panelist related that a White House correspondent for one of the Big Three TV networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) had told her that the network registered a huge amount of interest 66 Rebooting the American Dream in the “hot story” that week of a congressman’s sexual indiscretions. Far less popular were stories about the debates on health care, the conflicts in the Middle East, and even the Americans who had died recently in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“So that’s the story they have to run with on the news,” the intern said, relating the substance of the network correspondent’s thoughts, “because that’s what the American people want to see. If the network doesn’t give people what they want to see, More Thom Hartmann…
In Around the web, Books on November 25, 2010 at 8:40 am
Author Gene Logsdon
It’s not often that a book inspires you to go out and shovel steaming piles of horse poop on a cold November afternoon. But that’s exactly what happened to me after reading Gene Logsdon’s Holy Shit, and I mean it as a resounding compliment to the author. I should note, of course, that it doesn’t take much to get me thinking, and writing, about poop, pee, compost, and all things biodegradable.
From the selective flush and letting it mellow, through musing on the benefits of (male) pee on compost, to asking whether recycling our poop is the key to sustainable farming, I am somewhat known as the toilet correspondent here at TreeHugger. But Logsdon’s obsession with all things brown and smelly puts me to shame.
Logsdon has long been known as an eminent agrarian thinker and practitioner. From being an advocate for horse-powered farming (and the resulting fertilizer), to writing (and re-releasing) a guide to small-scale grain raising for backyards, homesteads and small farms, he has always made a strong case for small-scale, low impact farming, and a strong reliance on traditional methods and knowledge.
Romanticism This is Not
But as Matt argued in his post about Logsdon’s argument for horse-powered farms, the man has enough experience and knowledge that it is hard to paint him as your typical starry-eyed nostalgic romantic. Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind is yet further evidence that the guy knows his, errrm, stuff—and that what he has to share is important, practical and common sense knowledge that could help us navigate the looming challenges of feeding the world after peak oil, climate change, and dwindling reserves of phosphorous-based fertilizer take their toll on our oil-dependent farming systems.
The Mainstream Rethinks its Attitude to Manure
Starting with an anecdote about a mainstream mega-farmer More: Holy Shit…
In Around the web, Books on November 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm
From SHERWOOD ROSS
That we take the concept of full equality for women today for granted shows how far women have progressed when only 50 years ago they constituted America’s largest untapped human resource; when only 6% of all doctors, 3% of all lawyers, and fewer than 1% of all engineers were women; when no woman could compete in the Boston Marathon and when every woman needed her husband’s permission even to get a credit card. In the comparatively short span since, American women have made astonishing progress, from legal secretaries to lawyers, from nurses to doctors; from kitchen menials to astronauts, and from USO hostesses to front-line warriors. Their dramatic story is charted in the new book by New York Times columnist Gail Collins in “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present(Little Brown).” Back in the Sixties, “It was legal to say that women couldn’t be in management, because it was bad for the men,” Collins tells interviewer Diane Sullivan, a professor at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, producers of “Educational Forum,” on Comcast SportsNet to be aired nationally at 11 A.M. Sunday(EST), November 28th.
In the Sixties, popular TV westerns such as Bonanza spread the message that “Girls stayed at home and that girls do not have adventures,” Collins recalled. There were a number of amazing women around and here and there women pioneers blazed new paths “but the idea in general was always that women were the mothers and the wives and they stayed in the house,” she said. Some women after World War Two developed the first television shows, shows that featured women in important roles, but “when television became a very big deal, (the women) all went away, and you really had no shows in which women were the main characters.” In Bonanza, for example, lead Ben Cartwright, (played by Lorne Greene), is a widower on a big ranch whose three wives all died and whose sons fell in love with girls who all died as well. “I mean, really, you walk near the Ponderosa (ranch) and you were dead. It was a toxic landmine for women,” Collins said.
By 1970, however, the Mary Tyler Moore comedy series on CBS portrayed bachelorette “Mary Richards” as a single woman in her Thirties who was never married and was not looking for a man to support her. More: Women making progress…
In Books, Thom Hartmann Rebooting Series on November 10, 2010 at 8:14 am
From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout is proud to bring you an exclusive series from America’s No. 1 progressive radio host, Thom Hartmann. Starting today, we’ll be publishing weekly installments of Hartmann’s acclaimed new book, “Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country.” We invite Truthout readers to join us over the next 12 weeks as, chapter by chapter, we explore these groundbreaking ideas for national transformation. We begin today with the book’s introduction.
I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820
On April 14, 1789, George Washington was out walking through the fields at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia, when Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, showed up on horseback. Thomson had a letter for Washington from the president pro tempore of the new, constitutionally created United States Senate, telling Washington that he’d just been elected president and the inauguration was set for April 30 in the nation’s capital, New York City. More: Thom Hartmann…
In Books on November 9, 2010 at 7:53 am
From organizing workers to preventing war to making the economy more green, journalist Chris Hedges argues that, for decades, liberals have surrendered the good fights to corporations and ruling powers.
In his new book, Death of the Liberal Class, Hedges slams five specific groups and institutions — the Democratic Party, churches, unions, the media and academia — for failing Americans and allowing for the creation of a “permanent underclass.”
Hedges says that, for motives ranging from self-preservation to careerism, the “liberal establishment” purged radicals from its own ranks and, as a result, lost its checks on capitalism and corporate power.
“For millions of Americans, including the 15 million unemployed Americans,” Hedges tells NPR’S Neal Conan, “the suffering is becoming acute.”
He sites a recent trip to Camden, N.J., per capita the poorest city in the nation, as an example.
“When you get up and see the human cost of what this has done — these foreclosures, these bank repossessions, the fact that one in eight Americans and one in four children depend on food stamps to survive,” More: Chris Hedges…
In Books on November 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm
From AMANDA KOVATTANA
Having stated publicly that he is not anti-feminist as many concluded from his first post apocalyptic novel, World Made By Hand, Kunstler attempts to redeem himself with the title character. The Witch of Hebron is a delectable goddess of a woman who survives living alone through the grace of various psychic powers and the healing of men with a good lay. Armed thus, she appears to have an edge in a world peopled with robbers and filled with frequent violence.
I also greeted, like old friends, the white flight sensibilities of the community of middle aged men who peopled his first novel. The most “colorful” characters being the ridiculously archaic religious order of white men from the South fleeing the race riots, but that is not mentioned again and we are safe for now.
He begins the novel by fleshing out the psychic talents of the porcine queen bee spiritual leader of the religious order, though this does take away a bit of the mystery. And despite his having decreed that dogs are rare in a post apocalyptic world (because there would be no more canned dog food), he introduces quite a healthy dog and a boy. The boy sets the plot in motion due to the dog’s death (by horse stomping).
As we follow along we realize that this boy is everything to the book. And in this regard, Kunstler wins me over by giving the boy such capabilities as have gone missing in the last decades of overcautious parenting. The boy has been apprenticing with his doctor dad since he was 8 and now at 11, he shows a good deal of confidence and success in doctoring at every opportunity as he sets off across the countryside. More: Witches…
In Books on October 31, 2010 at 9:48 am
In his new book about “the long con that is breaking America,” the Rolling Stone reporter chronicles the bizarre sight of a nation about to reward—lavishly—the very same Wall Street titans, DC politicians, and shady power brokers who brought us low
Matt Taibbi, the profane, provocative reporter for Rolling Stone, is a larger-than-life figure in modern political journalism. That’s both literally true (he’s a big guy: he once played for the MBA—that’s the Mongolian Basketball Association) and figuratively true: he writes in a scorching, contemptuous style that gives the best of his work a cast of fire-breathing grandeur.
Known primarily for blaspheming the Pope, labeling Goldman Sachs a “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”, and more recently, slinging a mug of hot coffee in the face of a Vanity Fair reporter, Taibbi is clearly a man of outsized emotions.
His new book Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con that Is Breaking America [Spiegel & Grau] is a stinging new history of the financial crisis that heralds a return of Mencken-esque, dirt-under-the-fingernails American journalism. Griftopia delves into the shadowy world of collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and sovereign wealth funds, but he navigates the turgid money stuff with soaring sentences like “Greenspan’s rise is…a tale of a gerbilish mirror-gazer who flattered and bullshitted his way up the Matterhorn of American power, and then, once he got to the top, feverishly jacked himself off to the attentions of Wall Street for twenty consecutive years.” No one is spared…
In Books, Mendo Island Transition on October 26, 2010 at 8:54 am
From MAKENNA GOODMAN
As weather patterns change and fossil fuel supplies dwindle, communities have to start thinking about food resilience. How can farmers and gardeners grow and preserve food amid rapidly changing weather conditions, and without easy access to cheap industrial fertilizers? In her new book, The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, longtime gardener and scientist Carol Deppe digs into just such questions.
I recently talked to Deppe about how her form of resilient gardening compares to “traditional” gardening, the importance of not seeking perfection, and how all of this ties into food security.
Q. What’s the first step toward achieving food resilience?
A. There are three ways to do that. The first is through local buying patterns and trade. A second is through knowing how to store or process food that is available locally, whether we grow it ourselves or not. The third is gardening. In The Resilient Gardener, I talk as much about storing and using food as growing it. I love gardening, but not everyone is in a position to garden every year of their lives. However, the person who has learned to make spectacular applesauce or cider or apple butter or pies can often trade some of the processed products for all the apples needed.
More: Local Food Resilience…
In Books on September 29, 2010 at 8:54 am
From CHRIS WALTERS
Once upon a time, a chemical company in St. Louis discovered that normal limits did not apply to it. Whether its products sickened an entire town in the Midwest or poisoned villagers in Southeast Asia, things seemed to break its way. Regulators seemed reluctant to regulate, and judges delivered stupefying decisions with straight faces.
Microsoft’s monopolistic behavior resulted in trial conviction, and heavy penalties. Top executives of Archer Daniels Midland went to prison for price-fixing. Meanwhile the corporation with the sweet Spanish name went on a global tear, flooding the American food supply with dubious genetics, seeding government agencies with sympathizers, intimidating opponents, buying the loyalty of scientists, and transforming the rural landscape in country after country, always for the worse. Only the European Union, resisted it with some success. Only one of its major projects, transgenic wheat, was blocked decisively. more
In Books on September 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm
From RALPH VOSS
Newspapers, magazines and electronic media outlets all over the world recently announced a break-through vaccine that will hopefully protect women against breast cancer.
The following report — from CBS — is typical of what was said by numerous sources: “In the current study, genetically cancer-prone mice were vaccinated — half with a vaccine containing the antigen and half with a vaccine that did not contain the antigen. None of the mice vaccinated with the antigen developed breast cancer, while all the other mice did.”
Dr. Vincent Tuohy, Ph.D., the principal investigator on the project to create the vaccine, sums up the impact: “We believe this vaccine will some day be used to prevent breast cancer in adult women in the same way that vaccines prevent polio and measles in children. If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental.” more
In Around the web, Books on September 26, 2010 at 10:40 pm
From GEORGE MONBIOT
I used to think being a vegan was the only ethical way to eat. But an important new book suggests we can change our food system to allow for healthy meat consumption.
This will not be an easy column to write. I am about to put down 1,200 words in support of a book that starts by attacking me and often returns to this sport. But it has persuaded me that I was wrong. More to the point, it has opened my eyes to some fascinating complexities in what seemed to be a black and white case.
In the Guardian in 2002 I discussed the sharp rise in the number of the world’s livestock, and the connection between their consumption of grain and human malnutrition. After reviewing the figures, I concluded that veganism “is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue”. I still believe that the diversion of ever wider tracts of arable land from feeding people to feeding livestock is iniquitous and grotesque. So does the book I’m about to discuss. I no longer believe that the only ethical response is to stop eating meat.
In Meat: A Benign Extravagance, [Available in US January 2011] Simon Fairlie pays handsome tribute to vegans for opening up the debate. more
In Around the web, Books on September 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm
From Front Porch Republic
“The sleekest revolutions,” notes Barry Lynn, “are won not at the barricades but in the dictionary.” To control the terms of a debate is to control the outcome. This is certainly true of the term “free market,” a term which has come to mean almost its opposite, and hence a system which is manifestly unfree. The claim that our markets are not free is a serious one, and should only be made on serious evidence, just the kind of evidence that Barry Lynn provides in Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction.
The surest sign that a market is free is that it is competitive; there should be a rich variety of products provided by a vast number of firms, a situation which affords entrepreneurs many opportunities to enter the market and workers many places to sell their labor. And when we waltz into our local Wal Mart, that is what we seem to see. Alas, it is an illusion of competition rather than the reality. For example, if you want eyeglasses, you can go to Pearl Vision, or Lenscrafters, Sears Optical, JC Penney, Target, Macy’s, Sunglass Hut, or buy frames from 25 different manufacturers. Surely choice and competition prevail in this market. But no. All of these are one company, the Italian conglomerate Luxottica. And as with glasses, so also with so many other products. Most of our beer—even some that try to pass themselves off as “craft” beer—is provided by just two companies, ImBev of Belgium or the South African Brewing Company. Proctor & Gamble provides 75% of razors, 60% of detergent, 50% of feminine pads, etc. Even what few companies remain in each market often engage in collusion rather than competition. Wal Mart, for example, appoints one company as a “category manager” to allocate shelf space for all the “competing” companies. more
In Books on September 12, 2010 at 9:54 am
From CAROLYN BAKER
Thanks to Herb
In 2006 I published U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You. The book’s introduction informs the reader that it is not a textbook but rather a supplement written to expand and illumine material included in institutionally approved college history textbooks. I was motivated to offer the supplement because as a professor of history, I was appalled at the amount of history omitted in mainstream U.S. history college textbooks not only due to the desire of publishers to produce less costly books but as a result of a massive dumbing down of American culture in recent years. Or as one former history student of mine put it: “I used to be bored when I would watch the news with my dad because it was actually news, but today when I watch the news, it’s fun because it’s about things that really interest me like celebrity gossip, hip hop music, and funny commercials.”
I’m not Howard Zinn, even though my book has sometimes been referred to as “Zinn on steroids.” Dear Howard left us just before the Texas history textbook controversy erupted, and I have no doubt that he’s spinning in his grave in response to it.
If you want to conquer a people–any people, one of the first strategies for doing so is to eliminate or distort their history. While the neo-fascist revisionist “historians” would disagree, the fact is that nineteenth-century public education in the United States devised a specific agenda for removing Native American culture from Native children in this country who were forced (often kidnapped and then forced) to attend non-Native schools. Likewise, it was not until the 1960s that African American culture was taught in white schools in America because from the white perspective, the only history worth knowing was white history. more
In Books on August 26, 2010 at 7:31 am
From THE OREGONIAN
An expert fisherman and passionate environmentalist, Hiaasen uses a sunny combination of satire and outrage to expose the greedy, crooked creeps that make Florida such a weird place. He’s been doing it as a reporter and columnist for the Miami Herald for almost 35 years and has brought his wicked wit and true moral compass to a series of popular novels. Success hasn’t softened his sharp eye or caused him to pull his punches (although he did write a humorous golf book). Like John Grisha and Stephen King, Hiaasen uses his fame to speak up for what he believes and supports worthy causes. He is one of the good guys.
He’s also a brand-name author. The golf book and an enthusiastically received trio of young-adult novels have moved Hiaasen from slapsticky, mildly raunchy crime novelist to Big Time Author. Star Island, his new novel, is his first for adults in five years. It has all the usual Hiaasen elements — a sleazy developer, a level-headed heroine, a collection of lowlifes that makes the criminals in an Elmore Leonard novel look brainy, and a contemporary subject (in this case, celebrity culture) ripe for the satirical picking.
Star Island also has two recurring characters who are fan favorites: Skink, the touchy, roadkill-gobbling ex-governor of Florida; and Chemo, a former bouncer in a punk club who had a weed wacker attached to one arm after a too-close encounter with a barracuda in Skin Tight. more
In Books on August 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm
From ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED
Just about everyone has eaten something that comes from a crop doused with pesticides so toxic that no one is allowed in the field for five days after it is sprayed. Or that must be stored for six months after harvest to allow the pesticides to fade. What crop is it? Learn that and so much more in the Young Readers Edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Dial Books) by Michael Pollan, adapted by Richie Chevat. Based on Pollan’s adult book of the same title, the new version is simplified and updated, contains informative side notes and visuals and concludes with a new afterward, eating tips, a question and answer section and empowering resources. Though intended for ages 10 and up, Pollan’s detective work, substantive content and eloquent writing will engage readers of all ages interested in food production.
To solve the modern “omnivore’s dilemma” (we can eat anything, but how do we know what to eat?), Pollan investigates four meals representative of four different food chains – the system for growing, making and delivery food. He wants to share with us where our food comes from and what exactly it is we are eating. So, he starts in the farms and fields where our food is grown and personably chronicles its creation and consumption.
First, Pollan documents the “industrial” food chain, more
In Books on August 22, 2010 at 8:48 pm
From GAIL CALDWELL
The Washington Post
You can shelve “Let’s Take the Long Way Home,” Gail Caldwell’s beautifully written book about the best friend she lost to cancer in 2002, next to “The Year of Magical Thinking,” Joan Didion’s searing memoir about losing her husband to heart failure. But that’s assuming it makes it to your shelf: This is a book you’ll want to share with your own “necessary pillars of life,” as Caldwell refers to her nearest and dearest.
What’s the draw in reading about “unspeakable sorrow”? Well, despite Caldwell’s assertion that “the only education in grief that any of us ever gets is a crash course,” sensitive portraits of love and loss stir our nobler, empathic feelings, reminding us of our possibilities — and realities — as human beings.
Actually, Caldwell’s book is more heartwarming than devastating. It’s about the joys of friendship as much as the ravages of “intolerable loss.” She evokes the sort of soul mate most of us yearn for. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic for the Boston Globe, Caldwell writes of meeting Caroline Knapp, a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, in the mid-1990s: “Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived.”
They certainly had a lot in common: Both writers were exercise fanatics who were single by choice and temperament and worked at home. more
In Books on August 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm
Thanks to Grant Studacker
Some 200 years ago, a community in Japan faced many of the same problems that confront us today – shortages of energy, water, materials and food along with overpopulation. And the thoughtful solutions devised by the 30 million people who lived in what is now the city of Tokyo during the late Edo period (1603-1868) provide practical inspiration for what might be achieved today…
Micro-economies result in better service: Patronize local suppliers, cut out long-distance transport and build relationships within the local economy.
Build homes that are inspirational: Surround yourself with things that remind you of who you are.
Show restraint: Don’t have a house that’s bigger than necessary. Azby Brown recommends reading “The Not so Big House” by Sarah Susanka (Taunton Press; 2001).
Think sustainable: Use natural cooling, renewable and recycled materials, gray-water systems, handcrafted home accessories. more
In Books on August 16, 2010 at 7:18 am
From JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER
Author, The Long Emergency
The Witch of Hebron is the sequel to World Made By Hand, a story of the post-oil American future. It is set in and around the town of Union Grove, Washington County, New York. The time is several months after the action in the first book, the week before Halloween.
This excerpt concerns Stephen Bullock, the wealthy landowner whose plantation is home to dozens of people whose lives and livelihoods had gone adrift in the collapse of the American economy.
Mr. Bullock Meets the Enemy
The last thing Stephen Bullock did before bedtime, in his capacity as town magistrate, was to sign a warrant directing Doctor Jeremy Copeland to exhume and examine the body of Shawn Watling and report his findings, costs of which, labor included, were to be billed to the town of Union Grove, repayable in up to four dollars silver coin. He gave the folded and sealed document to his chore-man, Roger Lippy, for delivery in person the following morning…
In Books on August 13, 2010 at 7:39 am
From LEONARD KOREN
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers (1994)
What are the lessons of the universe?
Truth comes from the observation of nature. The Japanese have tried to control nature where they could, as best they could, within the limits of available technology. But there was little they could do about the weather — hot and humid summers, cold and dry winters, and rain on the average of one out of every three days throughout the year, except during the rainy season in early summer when everything is engulfed in a fine wet mist for six to eight weeks. And there was little they could do about the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, fires, and tidal waves that periodically and unpredictably visited their land. The Japanese didn’t particularly trust nature, but they learned from it. Three of the most obvious lessons gleaned from millennia of contact with nature (and leavened with Taosit thought) were incorporated into the wisdom of wabi-sabi.
1. All things are impermanent. The inclination toward nothingness is unrelenting and universal. Even things that have all the earmarks of substance — things that are hard, inert, solid — present nothing more than the illusion of permanence. We may wear blinders, use ruses to forget, ignore, or pretend otherwise — but all comes to nothing in the end. more
In Books on August 10, 2010 at 8:21 am
From MASUMOTO FAMILY FARM
Hailed by The New York Times as “A poet of farming” and the Los Angeles Times as the “Rockstar Farmer” who “uses his farm as Thoreau did his Walden Pond,” David Mas Masumoto weaves together stories of family and farming, life and death to reveal age-old wisdom that is fast disappearing—and urgently needed.
When Slow Food activist David Mas Masumoto’s father has a stroke in the sprawling fields of their farm, the reality of his father’s mortality drives Masumoto to reevaluate the significance and meaning of farming in an information-driven, modern world. As Masumoto nurses his father back to health, and becomes a teacher to the master who had once schooled him, he reclaims the practical and emotional wisdom that they and their ancestors had learned from working the land. Realizing that he himself needs to pass on a wealth of knowledge to the next generation, he writes this impassioned narrative—part memoir, part life instruction—about re-connecting to the land. more
In Books on August 7, 2010 at 8:41 am
From THE CLAREMONT INSTITUTE
Via Andrew Sullivan
A review of Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing, by Michael Slater
[...] Yet what I am calling a weakness in Slater’s book might also be regarded as its great strength—his willingness to survey everything Dickens wrote, not just the familiar highlights. It is easy to be overwhelmed just by Dickens’s titanic output as a novelist. But Slater usefully calls our attention to the fact that Dickens was much more than a novelist. He was a journalist, playwright, essayist, short-story writer, travel writer, children’s book writer, editor, and publisher, and in his private life he was a prolific and—not surprisingly—remarkably entertaining letter writer. Slater has evidently read just about everything Dickens ever wrote, and offers us the first systematic, thorough account of his literary career (some of the material, such as the journalism and letters, has only recently become readily accessible).
For the majority of us, who will never read more than a fraction of Dickens’s total output, Slater’s book provides a welcome opportunity to get a sense of how truly vast and varied his work was. For example, how many people are aware that, together with his protégé Wilkie Collins, Dickens wrote a play called The Frozen Deep, a response to the ill-fated Franklin Expedition to discover a Northwest Passage in the arctic wastes of Canada? Or that later Dickens and Collins, this time responding to the 1857 Indian Mutiny that shook the British Empire to its foundations, more
In Books on July 27, 2010 at 10:24 am
[...] Enter Temra Costa’s new book, Farmer Jane. A compilation of profiles of farmers and food activists, the book groups the women it profiles by what they do — though most likely do several, if not all, of these things — into six chapters (Building new Farm-to-Eater Relationships, Advocates for Social Change, Promoting Local and Seasonal Food, Networks for Sustainable Food, Urban Farm Women and The Next Generation of Sustainable Farmers), each with a “recipe for action,”…
With all due respect to the “farm moms” featured in Monsanto’s Mom of the Year contest, Farmer Jane paints a more dynamic picture of women farmers, many of whom don’t adhere to the “typical” farm stereotype, who instead focus on their creative approaches to food production and marketing, as well as the politics that influence their work (otherwise known as our meals)…
A few of the dynamic women farmers profiled in Farmer Jane:
- Nancy Vail, who entered into a creative partnership to fund Pie Ranch, and, inspired by the shape of her land, used it to her advantage, luring youths out to her farm with the promise of pie.
- Erika Allen, who incorporated her knowledge of art, knowing that in order to sell urban farming to a town like Chicago, it had better be aesthetically pleasing, of Growing Power Chicago.
- Deborah Koons Garcia — the filmmaker who knew to use media as a tool for education, with whom Costa now runs a radio show called Queens of Green.
- Denise O’Brien — the farmer/activist perhaps best known for her (close) run for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa, profiled here for founding Women, Food and Agriculture Network… More here.