This short fast-paced "cerebral" novel packs many surprises, provocative scenes, and humor throughout it. I've never read a book quite like this one bThis short fast-paced "cerebral" novel packs many surprises, provocative scenes, and humor throughout it. I've never read a book quite like this one before, and I look forward to reading her second novel as well. Zink focuses on a character named Tiffany (who apparently includes some autobiographical elements) and her husband Stephen, who live in Switzerland and then Germany. The characters' evolution over the course of the book seems slightly far-fetched, but I suppose that's part of the point. Also, the characters are birders and nature-lovers, which I enjoyed reading about. I wouldn't say that Zink's (characters') description of environmental activist campaigns isn't entirely accurate, but that's a small quibble. I definitely recommend this book....more
This short and interesting novel is difficult to describe. It's a story about a wife, her husband, and their difficulties as a couple and parents. TheThis short and interesting novel is difficult to describe. It's a story about a wife, her husband, and their difficulties as a couple and parents. The wife, whose name we're never told but whose voice gradually emerges, makes all sorts of literary and philosophical connections throughout the book, which appears to consist of sets of brief stories, observations, and aphorisms. I definitely recommend the book if you like Lydia Davis or Nell Zink (and reviewers also mention Renata Adler, whom I haven't read).
One of a few passages that stuck with me as I read the book: "Three things no one has ever said about me: You make it look so easy. You are very mysterious. You need to take yourself more seriously."...more
First the ground shook violently, and then a succession of towering waves smashed the island of Honshu. As people sought shelter and braced themselves during a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami—the worst and deadliest experienced by Japan in a century—they had no idea what was yet in store for them. The rest of the world was transfixed as well by the unfolding events when on 11th March 2011, four years ago this week, multiple reactor cores at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had meltdowns and threatened millions with radiation exposure. Today, scientists continue to assess the effects on public health and ecological damage, while the nuclear industry still reels from the worst disaster since Chernobyl.
"Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster," published last year by Dave Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analyzes these events and their implications and consequences in detail. Japanese are still recovering from the disaster, and the rest of us are still coming to terms with it as well, making necessary a thorough accounting of it, Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) handling of it, and the nuclear industry’s response. This investigative and well-researched book manages to accomplish that. [Disclosure: I am a member of the UCS Science Network.]
Lochbaum and Lyman are both senior scientists and nuclear energy analysts for UCS, while Stranahan was the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. They appear to have written the book for a US audience, as they include investigations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the vulnerabilities of nuclear reactors in the US similar to Fukushima’s.
The authors describe the tumultuous week of 11th March 2011, as TEPCO workers with little information about what is happening inside Units 1-4 of the plant, scramble to contain the meltdown and prevent additional radiation spreading to a larger zone and getting into the air, water and land. (Residents who weren’t evacuated were told to stay indoors but remained in danger.) First flooding occurred throughout the plant, backup power generators available turned out to be inefficient, there was insufficient water to keep the reactors cool, workers couldn’t enter buildings as they had already exceeded their allowable radiation exposure, an explosion delayed recovery efforts and scattered more radioactive material, and spent fuel pools turned out to be as dangerous as the meltdowns themselves......more
Pevear and Volokhonsky have produced another excellent translation, this time of short stories by Nikolai Leskov. The book includes The Enchanted WandPevear and Volokhonsky have produced another excellent translation, this time of short stories by Nikolai Leskov. The book includes The Enchanted Wanderer and sixteen other stories (such as "Lefty" and "The Spook", which I enjoyed) written between 1865 and 1887. Leskov wrote at a similar time as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Turgenev, but his writing was very different. He influenced later writers such as Chekhov, Bulgakov, and more modern writers. I definitely recommend the book. The introduction, footnotes, and endnotes by the translators are useful too. The only thing I didn't like was that a couple of Leskov's earlier stories include occasional negative stereotypes about Gypsies and Jews, which I found jarring, but translators and editors shouldn't really omit the occasional offensive remark, especially in historically important work. I hope you'll enjoy these stories too, warts and all....more
This is an interesting book, and definitely worth reading. In each chapter of Green Gone Wrong, Heather Rogers documents the successes and failures ofThis is an interesting book, and definitely worth reading. In each chapter of Green Gone Wrong, Heather Rogers documents the successes and failures of common attempts of "going green" (or greenwashing, as it turns out). There are chapters on organic and fair trade certifications, eco-architecture, biodiesel fuels, hybrid vehicles, and carbon offsets. In each case, many purported solutions to major environmental (and social) problems turn out to be very different than the proponents' claims. Rogers visits the factories where particular vehicles are built, and the sites of carbon offset programs, and the places receiving organic and fair trade labels, and in practice she finds that the claimed benefits of these things aren't always fulfilled.
The introduction and last few chapters are interesting too. She argues that business-as-usual consumerism, for example by simply changing light bulbs and buying Priuses, won't solve deep and widespread problems of environmental degradation and climate change. On the other hand, she applies her same practical criticisms to more radical proposed solutions, and finds that these may be insufficient as well. In the end, of course, there are no easy solutions. Nonetheless, we need to start with public engagement and political will, and with educating ourselves and each other. We should also become more aware of the connections between the environment and society in both the short- and long-term....more
Annie Dillard is excellent as usual. This reader includes a variety of very well written short stories and excerpts from Dillard's poetry and non-fictAnnie Dillard is excellent as usual. This reader includes a variety of very well written short stories and excerpts from Dillard's poetry and non-fiction. I definitely recommend it for fans and for those wanting an introduction to her writing....more
This was an excellent book and it's definitely as good as the hype. George Saunders is always entertaining to read. Two of the stories were clearly inThis was an excellent book and it's definitely as good as the hype. George Saunders is always entertaining to read. Two of the stories were clearly influenced by Vonnegut, but Saunders has multiple writing styles and writes about a variety of topics. I especially enjoyed the title story as well as "Victory Lap", "Escape from Spiderhead", "The Semplica Girl Diaries", and "My Chivalric Fiasco"....more