Much as his poetic writing evokes the “hard snow glister[ing] beneath the sun,” Joe Wilkins’ masterful debut novel, Fall Back Down When I Die, is as ragged, raw, and sharp-edged as the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana. Like the northern sun exposing bleached bones in a drought-dried coulee, this book exposes people of firmly held convictions and tough-as-leather circumstances, juxtaposed as can be, for the reader to ponder, absorb, grin along or cry with, and shake a fist at. An overwhelming sense of place, poetic, tragic, lovely. Goddamn… this book is a must read.
Expertly weaving together a meticulously studied analysis of industrial processes, ecological processes, economics, labor, race, geography, politics, law, and emerging science and environmental awareness, William Boyd’s treatise on the pulp and paper industry in the South of the United States provides an understandable, comprehensive history of the dynamics at play in shaping and reshaping land and region. Slain Wood paints a compelling picture of the complex array of factors that resulted in this continuing industrial force of the South. Boyd’s methods and writing highlight the need for incorporating multiple areas of study and research – we must look through economic, ecological, social, and political lenses to see the full picture, understand problems, and develop more lasting solutions. For students of history, of environmental externalities, of methodological research, and for anyone looking to learn as they read, I highly recommend this book.
Super excited about the video book review on Glimpses through the Forest from San Francisco Book Review. Check it out here. Will also be posting it to my website.
In browsing through the interwebs, I was excited to discover (randomly) that Glimpses through the Forest has made it into the reading list of an honors English course titled Exploring Cultural Contact Zones: Analyzing Cross-Cultural Conflict, Dialogue and Exchange at Texas Christian University. I would love to hear from students and teachers about their thoughts on the book, as well as the overall class. Thank you!
I’m proud to work for Gov. Brown’s administration. Onward in the fight against climate change!
The Earth Innovation Institute (EII) has developed a great video of efforts in Acre, Brazil to protect its forests and the climate through joint efforts of indigenous communities, the state government, cooperatives, and the potential of involving California in amplifying these efforts. See this short film here. A related film on sustainable supply chains is worth a watch too.
I came across a very cool bibliography of Peace Corps books requested back in 2011 by Congressman John Garamendi (RPCV, Ethiopia 1966-68) of records in the U.S. Library of Congress. The bibliography focuses on Peace Corps Writers’ books, of which Glimpses through the Forest is one. Looking forward to reading others on the list that I haven’t read yet.
I haven’t had time (or frankly, enough on-the-ground knowledge) to post a truly informative synopsis of the contested results of Gabon’s recent election. From media reports and reports from contacts in different parts of the country, the situation appears to be calm. Posting a couple of links here and here and here.
Excited to have Glimpses through the Forest included in the class notes section of the Fall 2016 edition of The Chronicle Magazine of Lewis & Clark College (my alma mater for law school)!
From idealistic, but on-the-ground realism of a twenty-something Peace Corps volunteer, to the added context of experienced hindsight, Dr. Richard Carroll’s The Emperor and the Elephants provides fascinating reflections on his many years in Central Africa working for conservation, wildlife, and protected area development and management. With challenges of language, remoteness, cultural differences, and the political machinations outside the gambit of any conservation worker, the history of Central African environmental protection is highlighted by heroic efforts of local and foreign advocates. Dr. Carroll’s prose brings out the beauty – raw and up-close – of these efforts and this place. I was fortunate to be able to work with Richard in the 2000s in Gabon, not too far from where he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic. His analysis and descriptions were as valid for me during my Peace Corps and WWF years, as they were for him decades earlier. I highly recommend The Emperor and the Elephants for its clear-eyed, yet passionate and hopeful, call to understand the world and the conservation imperative of working with local advocates to protect important landscapes and wildlife.