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

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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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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