Books by Anne Raver

Released: May 17, 1995

New York Times garden columnist Raver collects some of her observations on ``noticing things'' and ``the joy of obsession.'' Fortunately, she returns periodically to the subject of gardening; In fact, some of her most engaging pieces are the ones that entertain while they offer practical information to the green- thumb set. Consider, for example, her account of being disabused of a `` `beneficial bugs' fantasy'' by an entomologist who explains that insects lack a sense of gratitude or obligation to their purchaser: After fickle ``eat-and-run'' ladybugs lunch on your aphids, they'll take wing toward their original home, California. Raver's well-developed sense of humor keeps her writing centered, preventing pensive (and even genuinely down) moments from unduly darkening the text and expressions of her love for nature from becoming cloying, as when she reports, ``I found a little cutworm and thought for a split second of the Buddhists' reverence for all living things. Then I squished it.'' Many of these essays implicitly call upon the reader to empathize with and even care about Raver, particularly when she is writing about her family- -describing a moment of understanding shared with her elderly father or wishing she had a daughter so she could pass on what her own mother has ``given me, so freely.'' In this respect, individual pieces are more successful than the book as a whole. The picture we get of the author's life is fragmentary and jumbled; for example, we take for granted the presence of Raver's cat and then stumble over the news of its arrival in the household. It's tough to empathize with a life lived out of sequence. Like a well-tended, personal, and slightly eccentric garden, this collection is stronger on small, individual delights than overall formal design. (15 drawings, not seen) Read full book review >