One look at the heap of scrap on the cover and it would be easy to assume that Junkyard Planet is filled with preachy directives about consumption. But it’s this book’s subtitle that’s closest to what Adam Minter so adroitly achieves. Minter tracks our recyclables (including paper and even Christmas tree lights) as they are shipped to countries like China satisfying its insatiable demand for raw materials. While I would have loved learning more about the hows of the business, Junkyard Planet emerges nevertheless as an insightful look at an industry that is one of the many byproducts of consumerism.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Race Underground: Boston, New York and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway by Doug Most
The path from horse-drawn carriages in the late nineteenth century to electric subways was not always a linear solution, nor was it easy. Relief from congestion in Boston and New York, two of the country's early-growth cities, was to be the metaphorical “light at the end of the tunnel.” It is interesting that today, any grander agenda for the expansion of subways -- or public transportation in general -- seems to have taken the back burner, superseded by Americans' love of the automobile.
Nevertheless Doug Most's chronicle of how the subways got their start in two of the most dynamic metropolises in the United States makes for riveting and compelling reading. Highly recommended, especially for history geeks.
The empty plate on the cover of Anything Moves is fitting for the blank canvas possibilities today’s world of food presents. As New Yorker writer, Dana Goodyear shows us, there are many who are pushing the boundaries of what to present on a plate and how. Atomized lavender anyone?
The book is mostly Goodyear’s reporting pieces from The New Yorker cobbled together and the lack of a cohesiveness to the entire volume, sometimes peeks through. Nevertheless this is an infinitely engaging and delicious look at avante-garde cuisine in the United States and the players and foodies who make it happen.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Wasn’t the Garden of Eden just perfect until that nasty snake came along? Melissa Potter believes so. It’s up to her, she knows, to chase the “snakes” out – to make believers out of people like Andrew Waite, her college biology professor, an avowed atheist. In her compelling new novel, Lauren Grodstein shows that our views on religion are mostly a matter of perspective. What really is the explanation for everything? Is it God? Or is it science? As Melissa and Waite explore these profound questions, they find that neat explanations are hard to come by and the “other side” difficult to compartmentalize.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Years ago, it was suffragette Mary Richardson who took a cleaver to Velasquez's Rokeby Venus but that wound continues to haunt Marie, a guard at London's National Gallery. The cracks and tears that paintings take on over time, she realizes, are much like the strains people are subjected to as well. As Marie struggles with the weight of her past and the release that is waiting like a coiled spring to finally materialize, the reader is treated to some poetic imagery and an incisive exploration of the slow burn of life for an everywoman who is just coming into her own.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
It is only fitting that Artemis, the goddess of fertility and hunting, graces the cover of Donna Tartt’s superbly paced debut thriller, The Secret History. In a nod to the goddess of “swift death,” a closely knit group of college students, studying the classics at a small Vermont liberal arts institution, kills one of its own. In the echo chamber that results, morality walks on a slippery slope. This coming-of-age story (with glorious descriptions of Vermont) beautifully explores uncomfortable questions about ethics and courage. What’s scary here is not the crime itself but just how darned plausible Tartt makes it all seem.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Early on in the powerful book, American Dream Machine, the twenty-something narrator Nate Rosenwald makes his intentions clear. "This story I have to tell doesn't have much to do with me," he says, "but it isn't about some bored actress and her existential crises, a troubled screenwriter who comes to his senses and hightails it back to Illinois. It's not about the vacuous horror of the California dream. It's something that could've happened anywhere else in the world, but instead settled, inexplicably, here."
Read the rest of the review at BookBrowse.com.