Tuesday, October 7, 2008
GREASY RIDER by Greg Melville
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Take two men, a 1985 Mercedes diesel station wagon, a grease car conversion kit, and the first cross country automobile trip made by H. Nelson Jackson as inspiration, mix it all together and you have a funny, informative, and thought provoking look at the future energy independence of our nation.
One of the things I liked most about this book is that it did not preach any one environmental doctrine. There is never one answer to a problem as complex as the one facing our environment today. This book takes a good hard look at our attitudes and how they work to move us forward or hold as back in the “fossil fuel age”. Not only does it give us a very humorous look at two men on a cross country trip and what it takes for them to make it without relying on anything but used fry oil. It also gives us a beautiful snapshot of out vast country and the way one answer in one region most likely is not the answer in another.
It looks at different philosophies from a place of inquiry. Finding the merits of each idea and trying to find a common ground and complete understanding of what a particular environmental philosophy is trying to really say.
The book switches back and forth from the actual road trip memoir to specific tasks designed to learn more about different ways to become more energy efficient. I liked this on the level that everything in the book was very interesting to read. On another level however I sometimes found this distracting and seemed to slow down my reading progress. Overall the information throughout was great. At the end of the book a comprehensive list of sources is offered to learn more about what was discussed in the book.
I would suggest this book to anyone, period. We must make changes in the way we live. We can no longer live with the illusion that life can continue as it presently does at the rate that we are consuming our natural resources. The best thing about this book is that it puts many ideas into perspective and how all of the little pieces fit together. I hope readers will embrace this book for everything that it offers. The more we as citizens of the earth explore what is going on around us the better the outcome for all of us.
Monday, October 6, 2008
GUERNICA by Dave Boling
One of the things that I love about books is their ability to change my perception of the world. This book is no exception to the rule. I will forever be changed because of the journey through its pages. The writing took me to this place in spirit.
The book starts out with a view of the town “Guernica” shortly after a terrible event has occurred. You see the broken remains of many of the people but mostly the pain and sorrow of Justo (WHO-stow) who is the character that much of the book’s story revolves around if at times only remotely. Now that the book has set up the future it returns to the past to give you a much better picture of the people of the village of Guernica and the Ansotegui family.
Justo is the strong man of the town and also oldest of three brothers who has to care for them and the family’s farm. Becoming the “father figure” at such a young age in many ways made him the boy that never quite grew up having to bypass his boyhood to become a man to young. As the story progresses you see the story of his family and the joy that is what being Basque is all about. If there is a culture that can find an excuse to be happy any time and anywhere it is the Basques.
The book takes a fictional family and places it during a very real, very deadly, and horrific act that was perpetuated against them in the name of the Spanish Civil War. The bombing of this town was done by Nazi planes using it mainly as a training mission of young flyers to prepare for the impending WWII. The town had more bombs dropped on it in one afternoon than were dropped during the entirety of WWI.
This bombing is one portion of what this book is about. Unfortunately history books often only tell us the statistics of war. This book beautifully tells you about the people of war, especially a very proud people who refused to be victims of war.
I fell in love with all of the characters in the book. They were not perfect people, they had troubles, and they had flaws. But they did their best to overcome and maintain who they were as people and as a culture.
To be honest I could not read any other books for awhile after I read this one. I just did not want to let go of the characters. I even went out and got some books on Basque cooking and made a Basque meal for my birthday. The Basque people like to celebrate and if you would like to read about the celebration of life even under the shadow of adversity you will love this book.
This week's question: -LibraryThing's Recently Added feature: do you look at it? Do you use it for ideas? Is there something listed there now that looks interesting to you? What have you added to your LT library recently?
On my home page I like to look at the books that people who have similar libraries as I do have posted. Sometimes I already have the book they are adding or sometimes it is on my wishlist. Most of the books that I have been adding recently have been mostly Children's Fiction. I seem to have a hankering for some light fast reads lately. I will be getting some reviews up for them soon.