Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Long-Legged House

"Yesterday snow fell all day and covered the ground. This morning, though the sun came up clear, the thermometer read four above - a good morning to sit in the warmth of the stove and the brisk snow light from the big window over the table. It is a morning for books and notebooks and inviting blank pages of writing paper.
"For people who live in the country there is a charming freedom in such days. One is free of obligations to the ground. There is no outside work that one ought to do, simply because, with the ground frozen deep and covered with snow, no such work is possible.
"Growth has stopped. There is plenty of hay and grain in the barn; the present has abated its urgencies. And the mind may again turn freely to the past look back on the way it came.
"This morning has been bearing down out of the future toward this bit of riverbank forever. And for perhaps as long, in a sense, my life has been approaching from the opposite direction. The approach of a man's life out of the past is history and the approach of time out of the future is a mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here?"

by Wendell Berry
Counterpoint, 2012
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Calamity Jane: Legendary Western Poverty

"Her career may offer the best case study of legend-making in the history of the American West simply because there was so little on which to build; she arrested no outlaws, robbed no banks, and killed no Indians. Instead, hers is a bleak story of poverty, alcoholism, and an unsteady domestic life. She worked as a dance-hall girl, prostitute, waitress, bartender, and cook; she lived with various men she called husbands and expressed affection for her children. Rather than displaying legendary ingredients, her life illustrates a part of western history not often told, the existence of the poor."

The Woman and the Legend
by James D. McLaird
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Let the Meatballs Rest

This is a collection of 100 brief essays discussing specific foodstuffs, their histories and how they have helped shape the human societies that include them in their diets.

Potatoes, for instance, were introduced to Europe in the 16th century but their bland flavor and "subterranean nature" made them unappealing. Only when other crops had failed and starvation loomed did farmers turn to widescale production of the easy-to-grow spuds.

Garlic, likewise, was once considered fit only for peasants. Eating such strong and foul-smelling food was a damning mark of poverty in the 10th century.

And eggplant, first brought to Europe by Arabs, was long associated with "the lower class and Jews." Yet the peasant cuisine that emerged from their use would later be co-opted by the upper classes.

And Other Stories About Food and Culture
by Massimo Montanari
Columbia University Press, 2012
Cover Art: Let the Meatballs Rest
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Well Read Books: The Mind Benders

The Mind Benders explores the murky lower depths of the drug user, opening a strange world of sex and fantasy to the reader.

Can LSD change quiet afternoon teas into wild orgies?

Will marijuana turn frigid virgins into nymphs?

This book presents a sensationalized discussion of the aphrodisiac effects of speed, marijuana, opiates, heroin, LSD and other drugs.

by Jonathan Smith
Triumph News Co., 1967
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