|February 2018 Staff Favorites, New in Science, and More!
We present three brand new staff reviews. Plus, check out our upcoming author readings and read about the latest Science titles.
New Staff Favorites
|Here are some new Staff Reviews:
Over the Plain Houses
by Julia Franks
reviewed by Edie
Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town Irenie and Brodis Lambey run a farm in the North Carolina mountains in the late 1930s. He is an ex-logger who has become a fundamentalist preacher, and Irenie and their son Matthew toil on the land. When a female USDA agent comes to town to teach new ways of housekeeping and farming, Irenie is fascinated by a look at a different way of life for herself and her son. As she changes, Brodis comes to believe the dark ways of the devil have taken over his wife, and his anger at all things government put his faith to the test. The outcome is explosive. Franks has captured the tone and cadence of this time and place perfectly, and I found myself both spellbound and disturbed.
by Brian Alexander
reviewed by Will
Of the myriad of books describing the devastation of working class towns across America, perhaps none better describes the societal and economic failures of late capitalism's transition from industrialism to financialization than Glass House does. Alexander's reportage brings the fight to the doorstep of the people and systems truly responsible: the depraved neoliberal economic policies promoted by Milton Friedman that inspired a generation of politicians and enabled a class of pirating financiers.For much of the 20th century, Lancaster, Ohio, was a quintessential company town essentially run by the locally owned and managed glass factory that hired a large union labor force.With regulations stripped in the 1980s, Anchor Hocking and the people of Lancaster became the prey of a dizzying succession of green-mailers, debt-chasing hedge funders, and distant private equity raiders. Some of the names of the predators that sized-up Lancaster for its stripping apart are all too familiar today: Romney ("consulted" but couldn't close), Icahn (tragically did close on the company's future), Gallo (the ex-Amazon.com President crushed the local schools by extracting an exchange of school funds for a huge corporate tax abatement). The strength of Glass House is its description of each successive generation's further loss of opportunity and education and the resulting deep fall into the traps of poverty, drug addiction and imprisonment.Unlike the more facile and self-serving Hillbilly Elegy, Alexander shows that in Lancaster, "it's not the culture of the people that's the root problem, it's the culture of those who've broken faith with them."
by Naomi Alderman
reviewed by Michael
Would a world run by women result in a global utopia? This is the question at the heart of The Power, a novel that follows three women--the daughter of a British mobster, an abused Florida teen who hears voices, and an American mayor--who gain the newly awakened ability among females to unleash strong electrical forces from their bodies. A fourth central character--a young, male Nigerian journalist--chronicles the societal changes that unfurl across the world, from women rioting in the streets to more nuanced shifts in government and business, where power tends to corrupt, regardless of gender. Alderman unflinchingly follows her concept into disturbing territories, and the book is all the more successful for it. Smart, entertaining, and enthralling, The Power is a great novel for our times.
Readings at Annie Blooms:
Wife, Just Let Go
TONIGHT! Thursday, February 15, 7pm
An extraordinary love story, Wife, Just Let Go are the last words Robert Briggs wrote to his wife before he passed away from Alzheimer's disease. A publisher, literary agent, and author who deeply felt the influence of the Beat era, Robert never stopped writing. Even in his later stages of Alzheimer's, Robert was able to share insights into what he called "the power of aging," and his love of poetry, jazz, and Zen. His wife Diana, as his long-time partner and primary caregiver, joined him in this telling, as a way to restore for the reader, and for Robert, the parts of the story he was losing. Wife, Just Let Go navigates not only the waters of grief and loss, but also the other side of Alzheimer's: gifts that sustain and inspire loved ones left behind.
Thursday, February 22, 7pm
The Portland author returns to read from her mystery, Curious Tusks. Stuart Lehrman crosses North and East Africa in search of his grandfather, George Atkinson's assassin. A photojournalist, George was found dead on his porch in Arusha Tanzania after several articles revealing inhumane, but lucrative, practices by Africans and others. As Stuart makes his way through the continent others are murdered, including Atkinson's editors. With the help of a clever African family, Stuart collects the story to be certain it is released to the world. This character driven novel is a must read for those curious about the devastating effects of colonialism and resilience of Africans from this scourge.
Monday, February 26, 7pm
"The Vault" at O'Connor's Restaurant
We'll be selling books for the Portland author's event next door, at "The Vault." Accessory Dwelling Units are a form of residential infill housing that are poised to revolutionize housing in the United States. Unlike other urban development trends, this one is being driven by homeowners, not professional developers. With sections written for policymakers and small housing advocates, Backdoor Revolution offers insightful analysis and a succinct prescription for solutions to municipal and institutional barriers for ADU development.
Light of the Northern Dancers
Wednesday, February 28, 7pm
In the Seattle author's historical novel, Eden Rose has tended a foundering marriage and failing ranch at the corner of Crazy Woman Creek and the Powder River for a decade. Best friend, backwoods spitfire Maddie True, has her own woes a few miles away: widowed with a passel of young children, and caretaker to her addled father. Abandoned by her husband during the height of Wyoming Territory's worst drought in history, Eden depends on her inept brother, Aiden, to see her through the coming winter. But when he disappears into the wild Bighorn mountains, she shuns Maddie's fearful cautions, teaming with enigmatic Lakota holy man, Intah, to find her brother before the wicked snow holds them all hostage.
The Third Victim
Tuesday, March 6, 7pm
Local author Phillip Margolin returns for the launch of his latest mystery! A woman who has survived kidnapping and torture in rural Oregon identifies the house where she was held captive and the owner, Alex Mason--a prominent local attorney--is arrested for the murder of two other women. Legendary criminal defense attorney Regina Barrister has agreed to defend Mason. Robin Lockwood, a young lawyer and former MMA fighter, has just left a clerkship at the Oregon Supreme Court to work for Barrister. The Alex Mason trial is her first big one, a likely death penalty case, and she's second chair to Regina. Increasingly, she's worried her boss's behavior and the details in the case against their client don't quite add up.
New in Science
|Here are some of the latest books from our Science section:
The Wizard and the Prophet
by Charles C. Mann
In forty years, Earth's population will reach ten billion. Can our world support that? What kind of world will it be? Those answering these questions generally fall into two deeply divided groups--Wizards and Prophets, as Charles Mann calls them. The Prophets, he explains, follow William Vogt, a founding environmentalist who believed that in using more than our planet has to give, our prosperity will lead us to ruin. Cut back was his mantra. The Wizards are the heirs of Norman Borlaug, whose research, in effect, wrangled the world in service to our species. Innovate was Borlaug's cry. Mann delves into these diverging viewpoints to assess the four great challenges humanity faces--food, water, energy, climate change--grounding each in historical context and weighing the options for the future. With our civilization on the line, the author's insightful analysis is an essential addition to the urgent conversation about how our children will fare on an increasingly crowded Earth.
by Juli Berwald
A former ocean scientist goes in pursuit of the slippery story of jellyfish, rediscovering her passion for marine science and the sea's imperiled ecosystems. More than a decade ago, Berwald left a career in ocean science to raise a family in landlocked Austin, Texas, but jellyfish drew her back to the sea. Driven by questions about how overfishing, coastal development, and climate change were contributing to a jellyfish population explosion, Juli traveled the globe to meet the biologists who devote their careers to jellies, hitched rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild, raised jellyfish in her dining room, and throughout it all marveled at the complexity of these alluring and ominous biological wonders.
Dawn of the New Everything
by Jaron Lanier
Through a fascinating look back over his life in technology, Jaron Lanier, an interdisciplinary scientist and father of the term "virtual reality," exposes VR's ability to illuminate and amplify our understanding of our species, and gives readers a new perspective on how the brain and body connect to the world. An inventive blend of autobiography, science writing, philosophy and advice, this book tells the wild story of his personal and professional life as a scientist. While Lanier's previous books offered a more critical view of social media and other manifestations of technology, in this book he argues that virtual reality can actually make our lives richer and fuller.
Reality Is Not What It Seems
by Carlo Rovelli
What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? In elegant and accessible prose, theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli leads us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers deeper explanations of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes are waiting to explode--a vast universe still largely undiscovered. (Now out in paperback.)