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This is exactly what I want to read when I read fiction. Beautiful, emotionally grabbing, drawing you into both the concrete experience of modern Balkan life while transporting you into the magical world of the same places not so many decades ago.
How do we "go from being in the wind, grouped in whirlwinds, to making a revolution"? The editors of this volume, in order to answer this question, bring together theoretical pieces on social change with case studies and profiles of on-the-ground organizations doing the difficult work of resisting destructive social systems while building socially just alternatives. Written for the 2010 US Social Forum, it remains a prime example of the type of intellectual work we need if we want to see genuine, truly democratic and sustainable change here in the United States.
“Grief doesn’t have a face.” So much so that others may not see it even at the moment you wear it most completely. That same grief can create within you the need to smash things up: most of all yourself. To knock yourself about and then grind yourself down to something more elemental so that you can finally get to a place from which to build yourself back up again. The Pacific Crest Trail, for Cheryl Strayed, is both the completion of her grief-wrought self-destruction and the place that she begins, step by aching step, to forge herself together again. And Wild, her account of her summer spent on the PCT, is a compelling account of both her personal and physical journey. Strayed moves back and forth from her moments on the trail to the experiences that brought her there with ease and care. “The wanting was a wilderness and I had to find my own way out of the woods,” she says after her mother’s death, and she leads us through both that emotional wilderness and the PCT wilderness of rattlesnakes, black frogs, stray bulls and snow slides, as a seasoned guide. Those familiar with my staff picks at the store will know I don’t usually recommend your typical bestsellers. I picked up Wild because, as a backpacker, I was interested in the experience of a woman solo-hiking the PCT. One of the book’s strengths is the way in which it captures the internal mental and emotional life of the solo backpacker: the repetitive loops of mind and way in which physical weariness translates into mental weariness, how the ‘away’ of the trail that you hope for your mind is always different from what you expect, a different form of ‘away’ from oneself than you can find in any other form of vacation. Strayed also avoids the strained nature descriptions one is likely to find in much writing about the outdoors, which keeps the story moving, and reminds us how, lost though we may be, stepping into the wild is always such a human encounter, a place where we find ourselves as much as anything else.
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Now available in paperback! (12/2012)
Maybe you've heard of projects like Occupy Wall Street's The Rolling Jubilee and Strike Debt. It's Graeber's historical and anthropological analysis from this book that forms the basis for much of the work of such projects, and which is causing people world-wide to rethink our conception of debt and freedom right now.
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Why don't Americans fight back against state and corporate abuse? Levine manages to examine and critique our "learned powerlessness" with a great deal of understanding and compassion, and provides some excellent ideas for how we might regain individual autonomy and collective power. You can read excerpts from Levine's book on his blog at: http://brucelevine.net/category/bruce-levine-blog/
Local Echo Park residents Coyne and Knutzler have updated their how-to guide to sustainable living with even more projects. Clear instructions and abundant humor make this a great choice not only for green enthusiasts but also beginning and experienced tinkerers and gardeners of all sorts.
Objectivity is a widely accepted value in our culture; we praise journalists, scientists, and public intellectuals and leaders when their work or decisions are "objective." But in this fascinating look at the history of objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Gallison document the ways in which the concept of objectivity itself, especially in the sciences, has changed through time. What counts as an "objective" viewpoint has shifted as our technologies for viewing the world around us have changed, leaving us to puzzle over both what objectivity is and what social value it should have.