An instructive, inspirational, and indispensable guide for anyone who tires of lawn care and wants an alternative that could...

Life After Lawns

8 STEPS FROM GRASS TO A WATERWISE GARDEN

Bogh and Schnetz outline the steps to transform a water-hungry lawn into an inviting, drought-resistant, less-hassle garden.

In light of California’s recent law mandating water conservation as well as the increasing danger that more U.S. and global regions may experience crippling droughts, Bogh and Schnetz’s ecologically responsible book is timely and wise. Though the book advocates a no-lawn approach and highlights plants and soils of the arid West, the authors explain that much of the information regarding water-efficient garden design and planting can be applied to all climate zones. The book takes the novice gardener on a soup-to-nuts journey from methods on how to kill a water-hogging lawn to design choices for creating a lovely outdoor room decorated with stones, tile, and drought-resistant trees and plants. The authors cite some shocking statistics: for U.S. homeowners living in arid regions, 60 to 75 percent of their household water is used for watering lawns, and 25 million acres of lawn is tended to by U.S. residents at an annual cost of $6.4 billion. Their well-organized guide begins with some basic FAQs about designing, developing, and maintaining a no-grass yard. From there, the book offers a comprehensive description, in helpful detail and with color photos, of steps necessary to complete the project. Other topics include envisioning a “paradise garden,” finding landscaping professionals, hiring contractors, acquiring necessary permits, soil and composting, irrigation techniques, choosing trees and plants, and pruning strategies. Wonderful resources, including a large list of gardening websites, close out the index. The book’s visual layout is also appealing, with plenty of color photos providing fine support as well as inspiration for design ideas. Brief, practical tips dot the text, as do lyrical observations about nature and gardens from writers such as Stanley Kunitz and Wendell Berry. The authors strike a perfect tone between deliberate planning and following your heart, experimenting with textures and colors and developing a green thumb through some trial and error.

An instructive, inspirational, and indispensable guide for anyone who tires of lawn care and wants an alternative that could help mother earth.

Pub Date: July 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4929-5510-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2015

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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