THE ATTENTIVE HEART

CONVERSATIONS WITH TREES

Twenty-seven lyrical, beautifully illustrated essays about communing with trees. Kaza (Environmental Studies/University of Vermont) tries to marry deep ecology with the ``Mountains and Rivers Sutra'' of the ninth-century Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen. Like the sutra, the book progresses in five sections, beginning with the ``simple desire to meet trees and make contact'' to the desire to ``uncover more complete histories of individual trees,'' as well as to ``experience a certain vulnerability in raising difficult questions'' about life and death among trees and humans; then going, third, through an entering into the sufferings of trees and on, fourth, to a response in ways that ``are heartfelt and genuine'' and that ``aim for greater capacity in approaching the very demanding situation of trees today''; and, lastly, taking up a search for ways ``to restore spiritual as well as biological relationships with trees....'' Kaza is deeply serious as she strives for the heartfelt in trees growing up the Coast Ranges of central California, and in Washington, Oregon, and the Sierra Nevada. She fights TV and nature movies that offer ``delusional substitutes for rich, sensory contact with the actual rhythms and textures of the natural world'' (an argument very similar to Bill McKibben's in The Age of Missing Information, 1992). Hers are one- sided conversations: The redwoods, alders, maples, and oaks don't answer back. But we get many wonderful moments down in the drinking roots of sycamores; up in the spring ecstasy of pollinating maples; sitting in the still wisdom of caves; and watching a nervous Kaza, with a diamond mind and chain saw, cutting firewood that she praises. Too talky at times, but readers who stay will be rich winners. Could achieve a cult following. (Twenty-seven lithographs by Davis Teselle) (First serial to New Age Journal)

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-449-90779-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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

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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

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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

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