THE BIG SWIM

COMING ASHORE IN A WORLD ADRIFT

A soulful and sobering memoir of climate change and personal responsibilities.

An American-born Canadian journalist contemplates mindful living in a world threatened by climate change.

In her first book, one-time Seattle lawyer Saxifrage tells the story of how she evolved from “comfy mama to climate hawk.” Her transformation began when she participated in an organic farming program on Cortes Island, just off the coast of British Columbia. Saxifrage and her husband immediately fell in love with the island’s unspoiled natural beauty and bought a 20-acre parcel. Eager to help preserve Cortes Island for future generations, the author began to serve on community environmental boards and research climate change. What she learned from these experiences led her to implement a plan—which included buying a hybrid vehicle, line-drying clothes, riding bicycles, using electricity rather than natural gas and traveling long distances by bus—to reduce personal carbon emissions. As part of this project of "claiming [their] relationship" to the Earth, she and her husband even renamed themselves after a tiny flower of the genus Saxifragaceae. The more invested she became in the well-being of Cortes Island and the planet, the more connected she felt to the living, the dead and herself. The ancient human jawbone discovered on a second property the family owned allowed Saxifrage to understand “the gift of limited time in this beautiful place” that she had been granted. Efforts at remembering dreams connected her to her innermost self and a Jungian collective unconscious. At the same time, heightened awareness led to increased anxiety about the rapidity of ecological destruction. Mindfulness pulled her from the depths of her own encroaching despair. Through this practice, Saxifrage learned that her task as a planetary caretaker was to find the balance to enjoy life while finding the resilience she needed to carry on the fight to save the Earth. 

A soulful and sobering memoir of climate change and personal responsibilities.

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-86571-798-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: New Society Publishers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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