A cogent environmentally oriented collection, centered on the Sri Lankan culture and landscape.

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SLOW-COOKED THOUGHTS

A Sri Lankan author and photographer marries spirituality, science, and art appreciation in his meditations on culture, colonization, and the survival of life on Earth.

In the preface to this eclectic debut anthology, de Soysa argues that people are using the earth’s resources “for the selfish benefit of humans only.” That comment is a neat statement of the theme of the pieces that follow: articles, lectures, memoirs, essays, and tales, punctuated by 68 of de Soysa’s photographs. Originally conceived as a private publication for his children and grandchildren, the work is a manifesto of de Soysa’s personal, political, and spiritual philosophies as well as his respect for the natural world and his knowledge of innovative midcentury art movements in Sri Lanka. In “What is Our Real Ancestry?” he combines Eastern thought with science, writing that Earth “is the only planet where the elements of fire, earth, air, and water are in dynamic equilibrium.” “Becoming: Colombo Art Biennale 2012” is an affectionate profile of the artists who developed a modernist art movement grounded in Sri Lankan culture, while “Mihithala Mithuro Twentieth Anniversary” argues for the importance of environmental activism in Sri Lanka. “London to Colombo by Car” is a vivid description of an adventurous journey, viewed through the lens of memory. De Soysa’s narrative voice is warm and sincere and his photographs have the informal immediacy of personal snapshots that loop the reader into this captivating family narrative. Although the message of environmental urgency is repeated frequently, it is presented with rationality and clarity in such pithy statements as, “The world of humans is no longer living within its ecological income but is using up the life-giving ecological capital.” His solutions, too, are succinct. They include “restore the forest cover to at least 50 per cent,” “limit our wants,” and “wean the global economy away from its demand for ever-increasing growth.”

A cogent environmentally oriented collection, centered on the Sri Lankan culture and landscape.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5437-4793-5

Page Count: 140

Publisher: PartridgeSingapore

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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