Monthly Archives: December 2008

9 posts

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner by Fred Pearce


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But Pearce knows more fundamental rethinking will be necessary to keep our species going. “The worst twentieth-century crime of urban planners was to design cities around cars.” We have to transform cityscapes “to make the car … irrelevant,” he writes. “We simply have to give up flying as much as possible.” He thinks the dangers of nuclear power have been “overblown,” and admits coal may be necessary to tide us over, if we can effectively bury its emissions.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison


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That’s it. Truly. That’s the plot. But to say that is all there is to it is like saying the Vietnam Memorial is just a black wall. There are an infinite number of stories in this book, with each new character’s narrative throwing light onto unexpected sides of the people we thought we knew. When Morrison takes us into a world, we do not visit it; we inhabit it.

Hollywood Lives: George C. Scott and Tony Curtis


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At the airport, customs agents discovered a bag of marijuana and a handgun inside his baggage. After surrendering to the authorities, Curtis writes that he thought, “Whatever happens, it won’t be as bad as my childhood.” At age 50 – after he had been a movie star for a quarter of a century – he got to the door of the hospital room where his mother was dying from heart disease. He heard her calling his name, but could not bring himself to go inside.

Baby Jesus Pawn Shop by Lucia Orth


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So let me begin by saying Orth is a very talented writer. She has an eye for detail and a knack for imagery. In her tale of a Filipino and a Westerner coming to grips with the dictatorial landscape of a Marcos-era Philippines, she saturates our minds with sights and senses.

Gaia


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‘Can there have been any more inspiring vision this century than that of the Earth from space?’ exclaimed Lovelock, looking back. ‘We saw for the first time what a gem of a planet we live on. The astronauts who saw the whole Earth from Apollo 8 gave us an icon that has become as powerful as the scimitar or the cross.’

Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong by Pierre Bayard


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These books are indeed a kind of witty parlor game, certainly. But though Bayard occasionally gallops into the high alpine meadows of literary and psychoanalytic theory, he still sticks closely to the text he’s given. And though he probably doesn’t believe half of what he’s saying, it does pass the logical plausibility test.

Casanova by Ian Kelly


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Ah, Casanova. Men want to be him, and women want to be with him. Or is it the other way around? He’s Romeo with cojones, Bond without the Beretta, a man more sinned with than sinning. In the annals of sexual conquest, there has seldom been a more entertaining and knowing chronicler. Casanova, according to Casanova, was a legend.

What If a Large Asteroid Was Heading for Earth?


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“But then an asteroid 6 miles across – that’s bigger than Mt. Everest! – slammed into the Gulf of Mexico just off the Yucatan Peninsula. The explosion was huge, setting fire to vast amounts of land, and creating a tsunami that must have scoured the Mexican and Texas coasts clean. It launched so much rock into the sky that they went on ballistic arcs, going up out of the atmosphere and then back down, setting fire to forests around the world.”