12 June 2010

New Books ~ Solnit/Caron & Pollitt

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. I won't divulge my age; we can simply say 'advancing.' In any case, today I accompanied Susan to a local pub to watch the opening match of the World Cup. I say "opening" in the most parochial possible sense - we went to watch England play the U.S., not South Africa versus Mexico. But the whole event is about parochial interests and identities after all, right?

My son Douglas drove cross town to meet us. After the match (let's just say Susan was rightly disappointed with the outcome) Doug took the opportunity to give me two books he'd bought me as birthday presents. Thanks buddy! The books are new and were written by two politically astute, terrifically smart, and talented women. If you stop by the blog much you won't be surprised that these made it onto my birthday list. Here are s a couple of teasers.


“The Bestiaries, or books of beasts, of almost a thousand years ago contained much that we no long believe. There is no stone in the heads of toads that neutralizes poison and there are no unicorns at all, so the ability of their horns to likewise undo poison is not particularly helpful either. Those old books were compendiums of known and imagined animals, of eagles and dragons and elephants, with lore about their powers, lives and meanings, often moral and religious meanings, They were also compendiums of sheer wonder, but the sense of wonder that emerges from scientific knowledge is at least as great, whether its about Belding’s ground squirrel of the Sierra Nevada that hibernates about eight months a year or the elephant seal that not only can hold its breath underwater for an hour but often does so for twenty minutes or more at a time while sleeping on the shore. Or the blue whale, whose heart is bigger than an American bison and beats about six times a minute, a tenth the speed of ours, or the hummingbird in flight, whose tiny heart beats a thousand times a minute.”*


From a Notebook
Katha Pollitt**

The final vanity, to think
you're not your life, that even today
as\t the last possible moment
you can walk away; as out of cheap hotel,
leaving ten dollars under the key on the bureau.
Why bother to lock the door? The fuzzy TV,
the footsole-colored bedspread,
the quart of milk souring on the windowsill,
you always new they had nothing to do with you
although you were used to them
and even grateful,
alone as you were, in a strange city.
* From: Rebecca Solnit & Mona Caron. A California Bestiary. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, 2009, pages 5-6.
** From: Katha Pollitt. The Mind-Body Problem. New York: Random House, 2009, page 50 .

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Blogger tim atherton said...

I rather enjoy Solnit's books - neaerly always something new to think about

04 July, 2010 22:41  

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