Reece’s insightful, witty, and reflective essays offer up new ways of thinking about spirituality, culture, and the...

PRACTICE RESURRECTION

AND OTHER ESSAYS

Religion, ecology, literature, family, and ideas all commingle in this collection.

The shadow of the prolific writer Guy Davenport (1927-2005) quietly hovers over these sharp, incisive, and opinionated pieces by Reece (Writer in Residence/Univ. of Kentucky; Utopia Drive: A Road Trip Through America’s Most Radical Idea, 2016, etc.), who’s also Davenport’s literary executor. In form, some echo Davenport’s favorite “assemblages” or metafictive gatherings. “Nine Drafts of a Suicide Note” beautifully weaves together reflections on the Tate Gallery’s Rothko Room, with its nine massive canvases of “corpuscular hues of blood and wine,” Nietzsche, James Baldwin, and the suicide of Reece’s father. “Maxims and Errors” offers up bits of wisdom like: “Take the gods out of the sky. Put them back in the forest. Now we are getting somewhere.” Many channel the works of Thoreau, Whitman, and Wendell Berry. The longest piece is about Reece building a wooden boat and canoeing the Kentucky River for a week while daily reading a book he turns to frequently, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, a “fascinating,” “maddening” and “unclassifiable text.” “Instead of the Ten Commandments” takes on some calls for them being prominently posted in public spaces. Reece has an alternative: Whitman’s poem “Laws for Creations.” It’s “shorter” and it “never mentions the word not.” One essay about a birding adventure with Berry considers the “possibility that a broken world can be made whole” with imagination. A lovely piece on Davenport honors the “master artificer” whose “writing was a high wire act in every sense.” Reece calls him the “greatest prose stylist of his generation.” Here are the Wright brothers viewed in the light of the French poet Blaise Cendrars or talking lions joining forces with Wittgenstein and Jesus. Despite occasional repetitions, these are delightful and illuminating.

Reece’s insightful, witty, and reflective essays offer up new ways of thinking about spirituality, culture, and the environment.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-608-7

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

Did you like this book?

A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more