Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 20 - gift

Supervising students pays off karmically, I always say, but sometimes it pays off materially as well. After yesterday's successful defense, Tolkien Fan very kindly provided me with a wee treasure trove that proves she's been reading this blog carefully, not just the many volumes of JRR Tolkien and the (to me quite unsatisfactory) ecocritical studies of same by Matthew Dickerson.

To my shelves, I gratefully add:
  • Elspeth Bradbury & Judy Maddocks, The Garden Letters
  • Robert Hass, Time and Materials: Poems, 1997-2005 (lovely!)
  • Adolf Hungrywolf, Legends Told by the Old People of Many Tribes
  • Ian Mackenzie, Ancient Landscapes of British Columbia (holy rhetoric of the nostalgic sublime, Batman!)
  • M.A. Macpherson, Outlaws of the Canadian West (a selection that may represent mocking and will therefore be reflected in all future reference letters...)
  • JRR Tolkien, The Children of Hurin (with a possibly gratuitous accent aigu over the "u," which reminds me I still haven't learned the first thing about Unicode)

Apropos of all this, though perhaps somewhat tangentially for a note intended primarily as one of thanks, I want to talk a bit about the state of Tolkien ecocriticism. Dickerson and Evans' book Ents, Elves, & Eriador: The Environmental Vision of JRR Tolkien, sounded promising, but I approve of Patrick Curry's assessment of the book in Tolkien Studies as "disingenuous and tendentious" (PDF download of review here), a response echoed by Dimitra Fimi in Folklore who called it both "patronising" and "propagandist." Honestly, we need better Tolkien ecocriticism than has been done so far, and not just better than Dickerson's. Too much of it reads like a caricature of ecocriticism, rather than like genuine analysis. Ecocriticism should involve the reconsideration of one's assumptions, not the buttressing of them, and that's an important reason why I appreciated Naomi's paper.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 18 - BC Ferries

Now, I buy books pretty rarely on BC Ferries, ever since Jim Pattison pushed Duthie's Books off the gangplank and onto its long decline into its complete disappearance from BC's book scene (with an assist from Jack Munro, if commenter Janie Jones at position #1 is to be believed). However, I really had no choice but to pick up one of the newest offerings from the increasingly interesting Brindle & Glass publishers: Ann Eriksson's novel Falling from Grace ($19.95).

I haven't started reading it yet, but here's the back-cover description, which will explain why I needed it:
Every so often it's the little things in life that make all the difference--like chromosomes, sperm, tiny bugs, or an endangered seabird that nests in an old-growth forest. But what's big and what's little depends entirely on your perspective.

At three feet ten inches tall, Faye Pearson knows all about perspective. A scientist doing entomological research in the tallest trees on Vancouver Island, Faye struggles to function in a world not made for people her size. Whether she is standing up to a logging boss or nurturing a wayward child in the midst of an environmental standoff, you will be unable to take your eyes off of this remarkable woman.
More reviews coming once the marking is finished. I'm almost finished Melody Hessing's Up Chute Creek: An Okanagan Idyll, and Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. (Spoiler: Bryson's funny, Hessing's earnest and interesting.)