Thursday, February 24, 2011

February 24 - Russell Books

Now, it looks like I spent some cash today at Russell Books, but in fact it's a swap, because really I just used up the remainder of my outstanding credit when I handed over some books that I wasn't going to miss having around. (This raises, obviously, some questions about whether I'd genuinely miss any of the thousands that, or possibly who, survived the recent purge, but it's best if I just don't think about that. New to the menagerie, then:
  • Chris Bruce et al., Myth of the West ($12.99, a dandy book of essays and images from a major 1990 show by the U of Washington's Henry Art Gallery)
  • Harold Coward, ed., Traditional and Modern Approaches to the Environment on the Pacific Rim: Tensions and Values ($5.99 for frankly a terrific volume of essays, by writers like Stephen Owen, Rosemary Radford Reuther, and Nancy Turner)
  • Larissa Lai, Salt Fish Girl ($9.99 for what I hear's a brilliant pre-modern AND post-apocalyptic novel, blending two different time periods: "a remarkable novel about gender, love, honour, intrigue, and fighting against the dark forces of biotechnology," says the blurb)
  • John McPhee, Basin and Range ($7.99: apparently I'm gradually collecting McPhee books, and I sure did enjoy his The Pine Barrens, even though I seem unaccountably NOT to have posted any notes on it)
  • Gary Paul Nabhan, The Desert Smells Like Rain: A Naturalist in Papago Indian Country ($4.99, I have to say for no clear reason, given the utterly fascinating subject and approach, though admittedly I'm a giant nerd for this sort of thing), and
  • Heather Rogers, Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage ($9.99 for the book, not the movie, and I'm already having trouble not reading it rather than marking papers the way I should).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 13 - Value Village

Looking for jeans at the Village, since I do my best to buy new as few articles of clothing as possible, I unaccountably found myself in the books section. Whoops:
  • Edith Fowke, Folklore of Canada ($3.99: "fairy-tales, legends, jokes, myths, tall tales, riddles, sea songs, and every other type of unwritten lore in Canada is represented in this first anthologized cross-section of the nation's diverse folk traditions" -- it's a book every Canadian should have, honestly)
  • Granta 89, on "The Factory," including a sensitive Joe Sacco comic about Chechen refugees living in a cowshed ($3.99)
  • Robert Kroetsch, Alberta ($3.99: "Kroetsch's wonderful storytelling and travel writing classic captures a luminous land in its golden era")
  • ed. John A. Murray, Out Among the Wolves: Contemporary Writings on the Wolf ($3.99)
  • ed. K.W.G. Valentine et al., The Soil Landscapes of British Columbia (5th book free! And I'm, um, a giant nerd)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Karsten Heuer, Being Caribou

A colleague of mine today, when she saw me heading for class with a pile of books related to animality, with Karsten Heuer's Being Caribou perched on top, exclaimed, "Being Caribou? Oh! I really didn't like that book. Ugh." I may be slightly misrepresenting the disapproving grunt with which she wrapped up her thumbnail review, but disapproving she most certainly was.

This made my opening remarks not five minutes later a little anxious, but the good reasons for someone teaching Canadian literature to find Heuer's book outside their ken aren't especially relevant to what I want my students to get from the book. The blend of phenomenology and spirituality, the faith in the real, the narrative linearity: these aren't what gets you a room in the CanLit hotel, so to speak, but they're crucial to any understanding of environmentally inflected literature. I resist spirituality as well, and I'm suspicious of anyone claiming too much (or too loudly) to have faith in the real, but anyone who knows me well will see in me, I think, a desire for ecological connection with place.

CanLit be damned, because this book's been written to express a thorough desire for connection. As one of my students said today, it's a book that can make you jealous -- she meant of the expedition, but I'm jealous of how close to success Heuer came in his attempt at transparent writing.

(And I've talked about the book before, so this doesn't count as a new read!)

Friday, February 04, 2011

February 4- Russell Books

You win some, you lose some. A few boxes of books have been languishing in the garage for the last three years or so, and this week I went through them. Some went to the office; some came out of storage; some stayed in storage; and others made the ultimate sacrifice.

Yep, I turned them into store credit at Russell Books, an exchange that so far has netted me:
  • Keith Basso, Portraits of the "The Whiteman": Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols among the Western Apache ($8: a brilliant study of one thread of Apache humour, the mocking of white folks through mimicry)
  • Michael Frome, Chronicling the West: Thirty Years of Environmental Writing ($7: occasional articles from numerous sources, many of them hard now to locate)
  • Tina Loo, States of Nature: Conserving Canada's Wildlife in the Twentieth Century ($8: popular environmentalism, practical knowledge, scientific conservationism - great stuff, in an enormously valuable book of which Tina Loo ought to be very proud).
And with the amount of credit left over, some other day will bring other half-dozen or so books. Just what my newly alphabetized but still groaning office bookshelves were looking for.