World Wide Work: Films, Books, Music You May Have Missed

January 06, 2017

Madrone on the HillMadrone on the HillTalent, Oregon Please share this edition of World Wide Work with others. They can subscribe for free by emailing with the word “subscribe” in the subject line. 

New and worth noting…


Eagle Huntress. This stunning documentary is a must-see not only for adults but for any kids old enough to read subtitles. It shows a 13-year-old girl in a remote, barren Mongolian community where for centuries teenage boys have been taught by their fathers to train eagles to do their hunting for foxes or other game. With her parents’ full support, this girl decides to break tradition and become an eagle hunter herself.
The Salesman. In an intense film from Asghar Farhadi (who also made A Separation and About Elly), a husband and wife are partners in a theater troupe that is currently performing Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, with the two of them in the lead roles. A traumatic event in their personal lives triggers a crisis in their relationship and calls into question Iran’s cultural traditions regarding gender roles and vengeance.
Loving. Little more than 50 years ago, it was illegal in many southern states for a white person and an African American person to marry. Two people in rural Virginia fell in love, only to be rousted out of bed and arrested by the local sheriff. Their case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. This exceptionally well-acted feature film tells their story with a minimum of Hollywood cliches.
Moonlight. A poignant and intimate feature film follows an African American boy through his teenage years and manhood as he comes to grips with being gay in a drug-infested part of Miami.
Union Time. In telling the story of a 16-year struggle to form a union by workers at the Smithfield pork processing plant in North Carolina, this powerful 86-minute documentary provides an excellent overview of what it takes for workers to organize in America today.
Certain Women. Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt has made another subtle and absorbing feature film, this one about three women in a small town in Montana.
Last Cab to Darwin. A 70-year-old cab driver in Australia learns that he has only three months to live, just as it is becoming legal to get medication from a doctor that would allow him to choose the timing of his death. But what does dying on his own terms mean?
Stray Dog. A documentary by the director of Winter’s Bone profiles the everyday life of  a Vietnam veteran and his new Mexican wife as he tries to cope with the psychological wounds of war and the growing poverty of neighbors and family members at the bottom of the economy.
Dukhtar. A mother in the mountains of Pakistan is faced with the imminent gift of her ten-year-old daughter to an aging tribal leader. She decides that they should flee to the city, despite the potentially violent consequences if they are caught.
After the Spill. An hour-long documentary interviews commercial fishing operators and others permanently hurt by the BP oil spill in the Gulf and looks at how the oil and gas industry’s practices are rapidly eroding Louisiana’s coastline.

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith (Akashic). This well crafted novel stands out for a number of reasons – the nuanced descriptions of the characters’ complex feelings, the realistic portrayal of how quickly a person’s life and a community can fall into crisis, and the focus on two lesbians and the challenges they face.

Refinery Town by Steve Early (Beacon). At a time when many progressives are recognizing a need to emphasize local organizing on issues of economic, racial, and environmental justice, a veteran organizer describes a growing movement in the working class community of Richmond, California, site of a major Chevron refinery. A broad coalition of labor, community organizations, environmentalists, and gay rights advocates has grappled with many of the challenges being faced in most local organizing, including how to work through differences in order to find common ground; how to ensure a leadership role for younger activists, people of color, workers, and women; and how to connect electoral work with year-round organizing on local issues like living wages, affordable housing, community policing, immigrant rights, and access to health care.
Journey by Beckie Elgin (Inkwater Press). With engaging text and photos, this tells the true story of a wolf that traveled from the northeast corner of Oregon to make a new home near the California border and how it eventually found a mate and started a new family. Well-told stories about the wolf’s experiences make the book ideal for everyone from kids to adults.
The Cabbage That Came Back by Stephen Pearl and Rafael Pearl (Hard Ball Press). A cute bilingual children’s book tells a story that celebrates sharing and generosity.
Writing to Save a Life by John Edgar Wideman (Simon & Schuster). Ten years before 14-year-old Emmett Till was killed by white terrorists in Mississippi in 1955, his father was hanged by the U.S. Army. Wideman revisits that case, and in the process brings up memories of his own as an African American boy growing up in Pittsburgh.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Knopf). This honest and entertaining book has many elements that work together to make a unique whole: a memoir of what a girl had to overcome to become a successful scientist, the story of her unusual bond with her eccentric scientific partner, and accessible short insights into the lives of plants.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday). A novel vividly recreates the violence of slavery and the repression faced by the few who tried to escape.
Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild (The New Press). Over a five-year period, a liberal sociologist spent time in Louisiana’s bayou region, listening to white working class people whose communities have been devastated by corporate environmental atrocities, who suffer the effects of poverty as inequality of wealth grows, and who support Republican politicians. She reports that the main message they hear from liberals is mockery and contempt, and that they do not see government improving their lives. Interesting companion reading is an article by public opinion researcher Guy Molyneux who presents evidence that white working class voters for Trump are not a monolithic group.
Educational Justice by Howard Ryan (Monthly Review Press). As the Trump administration prepares to speed up school “reforms” that big corporations and Wall Street are pushing, this book explains their agenda and showcases examples of teachers organizing for alternative ways to improve education.
Jimmy’s Carwash Adventure by Victor Narro and Yana Murashko (Hard Ball Press). In this bilingual children’s book, a young white boy gets to know a Latino man who works at a carwash, as well as the man’s son. When the boy learns that the carwash workers are striking for fair pay, he decides to take action.
The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley (Picador). A mystery novel takes us to a small Canadian village that is home to immigrants from Iceland, and then to the home country where they came from, as a young woman tries to sort out her past.
Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn edited by Theodore Hamm (Akashic). A collection of eight speeches by the abolitionist leader of the 1800s still provides interesting reading more than a century later.
And Then We Became by Devorah Major (City Lights). Poignant poems by a leading California writer explore her experience as a woman, an African American, and a granddaughter of immigrants.
The Fire Truck Who Got Lost by Colin Eldred-Cohen (Art of Autism). In this brightly illustrated children’s book, a young fire truck goes with the grown-up trucks to the scene of a fire, but then gets separated and can’t find his way back.
Bluebonnets, Firewheels, and Brown-Eyed Susans by David Lee (Wings Press). A poet humorously remembers the women he knew in the rural Texas community where he grew up in the 1950s.
Frozen Assets by Quentin Bates (Soho). A plot-driven mystery stars a female police officer in small-town Iceland whose investigation of a murder leads her to uncover high-level corporate and government corruption.

Lonesome Prison Blues
Jerry Garcia. A raw, intimate acoustic set with only his guitar and bass accompaniment in a 1982 concert at Oregon State Penitentiary.

Big Day in a Small Town by Brandy Clark (Warner Bros). Good storytelling in the mainstream country music genre.

World Wide Work -- the latest books, films, music

October 27, 2016

Please share this edition of World Wide Work with others. They can subscribe for free by emailing For more photos, see and Bisti SunsetBisti SunsetBisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico

Alibi Creek by Bev Magennis (Torrey House Press). In this exceptionally well written novel, a New Mexican ranch woman’s life is turned upside down when her brother returns from prison, the county commissioners she works for order her to facilitate corrupt financial practices, her husband leaves her, and she begins to see her Christian faith in a new light.
Cold Blood, Hot Sea by Charlene D’Avanzo (
Torrey House Press). A plot-driven mystery novel follows a young climate scientist on the Maine coast whose life is in danger because she is investigating big energy companies.
The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash (
Seven Stories). Three innovative novellas cast a light on class in today’s India. A janitor stumbles on a cache of money. An untouchable has his identity stolen by an upper-caste thief. A slum family faces a crisis when their baby keeps getting smarter by leaps and bounds.
Pale Harvest by Braden Hepner (
Torrey House Press). The young men in a western dairy community who are at the center of this touching novel struggle to understand faith, hope, and fate as they cope with poverty, isolation, and lack of power in the face of larger economic forces.
The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea by Rosemary McGuire (
University of Alaska). A woman who worked for years in commercial fishing gives an insider view of that life in this collection of short stories.
Woman Missing by Linda Nordquist (
Hard Ball Press). In this novel written by a former steelworker, a worker disappeared 20 years ago while challenging a mill closure, and the authorities had no interest in investigating. Now, her daughter returns to her hometown to discover what happened, putting herself in danger.
Dirt Work by Christine Byl (Beacon). A woman who has spent much of her adult life on trail crews in the western states provides an entertaining memoir of her experiences.
The Big Book of Nature Activities by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg (New Society). An extremely useful 350-page guide describes specific activities and games to engage young people in the natural world, have fun, and develop skills.
The God of the Whole Animal by Lewis Mundt (
Beard Poetry). This collection of highly original and personal poems comes from Beard Poetry, an independent publisher based in Minneapolis.
Tomlinson Hill by Chris Tomlinson (
St. Martin’s). A journalist who is the great-great-grandson of slave owners returns to his roots in a small town in Texas to tell the unvarnished story of the relationship over many generations between his family and black residents, including retired NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson. One striking aspect of the story is the similarity between what the white elite did to maintain political and economic power and cheap labor after the Civil War and the tactics being used today.
Environmentalism of the Rich by Peter Dauvergne (
MIT). A professor argues that an environmental movement focused on recycling, energy efficiency, and wilderness preservation is not making change fast enough because it does not challenge the root issues of overconsumption, extreme inequality, destructive growth, and excessive corporate power over decision making.
Secrets of a Successful Organizer by Alexandra Bradbury, Mark Brenner, and Jane Slaughter (
Labor Notes). While designed for use in a workplace context, this guide contains useful tips for any kind of organizing.
Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman (
University of Alaska). A compilation of the writings of a scientist who studied wolves in Alaska for 43 years provides comprehensive information about how these animals live, the important role they play in their ecosystem, and what it will take to allow them to thrive rather than disappearing.
Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank (Metropolitan). The Democratic Party presents itself as the party of working people, yet at the top it is run by a corporate and cultural elite whose economic and foreign policy positions benefit Wall Street and global companies at everyone else’s expense. The history of how that transformation has taken place is essential reading for all Americans, including those who may choose to vote Democratic anyway for tactical reasons.
The American War in Vietnam by John Marciano (Monthly Review Press). The U.S. government has launched a multi-year project to “commemorate” its war in Vietnam, framing that invasion as a patriotic effort to promote democracy around the world. A retired professor reviews the actual history of the war and debunks the myths being created by those who seek to build support for similar military interventions today.
The Drone Eats With Me by Atef Abu Saif (Beacon). A Palestinian writer describes how he and his young family and neighbors tried to maintain some normalcy in their lives during a nearly two-month conflict with Israel on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
Black Power 50 edited by Sylviane A. Diouf and Komozi Woodard (The New Press). Anniversaries of major events in the civil rights movement of the 1960s get far more attention than the 50th anniversary in 2016 of the emergence of the Black Power movement that was more militant, more critical of capitalism, and more concerned with local black empowerment than with racial integration. This collection of essays is accompanied by personal accounts by participants and more than a hundred dramatic photographs and other images.
Achieving Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy edited by Richard P. Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein (Cornell University Press). A collection of essays by activists and academics examines how giant retail supply chains controlled by companies like Walmart, Apple, and Nike hold working people in poverty around the world. Includes discussion about possible reforms.

The Measure of a Man. This highly unusual French feature film focuses on an unemployed man put through absurd and humiliating “retraining,” “coaching,” and interviews for jobs he won’t get, until he finally accepts a position as part of the surveillance staff in a big box store.
Lamb. A beautiful Ethiopian feature film tells the story of two characters who don’t fit into traditional rural life in that country. One is a young boy more adept at cooking than typically male tasks. The other is an outspoken teenage girl who is being drawn into local radical political debates.
When Two Worlds Collide. Backed by a “free trade” agreement with the U.S., the president of Peru launched a plan to turn over indigenous Amazonian land to big corporations for mining and oil and gas extraction. Indigenous communities fought back. The filmmakers immersed themselves in this drama and produced incredible footage showing the courage and sacrifice of the native people, juxtaposed with the familiar invoking of “progress” and “the rule of the law” by the corporations’ allies in government.
Deepwater Horizon. A Hollywood thriller recreates the 2010 disaster in which a BP oil rig caught on fire and exploded, killing 11 people and releasing tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. High-level acting and special effects help tell the story of BP’s greed that led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
The Ruins of Lifta. A Jewish filmmaker whose family was devastated by the Holocaust has made a film about a Palestinian village whose inhabitants lost their homes when Israel was established. Survivors of both experiences meet at the present-day village site, now a battleground among developers, the Israeli government, and Palestinians.

War Surplus
by Becky Warren. This 12-song album by a country rocker now touring with the Indigo Girls tells a continuous story about a soldier who was sent to Iraq and his girlfriend, following each of them from the time they meet to his return with PTSD.
Haas, Marshall, Walsh and Borderland by Joe Walsh. Two new albums of tuneful roots music, some original, some traditional, some instrumental, with innovations like a rendition of Phil Ochs’ “There But for Fortune” or a Yeats poem put to music.
American Band by
Drive-By Truckers. The dynamic white southern rockers have been touring with a Black Lives Matter sign on stage, and sing about a school massacre in Oregon, religious hypocrites, the Confederate flag, and police shootings of black men:

“If you say it wasn’t racial when they shot him in his tracks,
Well, I guess that means that you ain’t black,
I mean Barack Obama won and you can choose where to eat,
But you don’t see too many white kids lying bleeding on the street.”


July 21, 2016

This poem was first published along with the photo in the Summer 2016 edition of Cirque.


By Matt Witt


A long-haul trucker’s got his shiny red rig parked

on an early Wednesday morning

off Highway 395 in remote eastern Oregon

at a wildlife area at the edge of Lake Abert

where the few tourists that pass by

might stop to snap a scenic picture with their phones

and move on.


Ever since GPS technology came in,

the company knows where he is

every minute of every trip –

exactly where he stopped

and for how long

(after all, how long does a person need

to eat breakfast or make a bathroom stop?)


But GPS doesn’t know everything,

and neither does the company.


They know that he stopped

a regulation amount of time to sleep

in that cramped compartment behind the cab.


They don’t know that he walked

along the curving shore

in his t-shirt that used to be white

and watched the young sun light up

the ridges in the salt-covered mud.


They don’t know that he saw

silver bands of seepage

trying to snake their way

from the bottom of the hill

out to the little bit of actual water

way out in the middle

of the mostly dried-up lakebed.


They don’t know that he thought,

despite himself,

about all the climate change

he wishes he did not see

everywhere he drives.


They don’t know that he climbed

a little ways up the hill behind

so he could see how the water appeared

out of focus and dreamy

with reds, oranges, and yellows

as the fast-moving clouds

kept changing the light.


They don’t know that he sat

for a few minutes

in the silence

doing absolutely nothing

except watching the geese

waddle away from him

like they used to do

at the marsh outside of town

when he was a boy.


In a few days

he will pull that shiny red rig

into the company terminal

and the records will show

that he got as much mileage

out of this trip

as he could,

and that he never wasted

even a single moment.


Low Water, No BirdsLow Water, No BirdsLake Abert, Oregon








World Wide Work -- new books, films, music

July 21, 2016

Gray Crowned Rosy FinchGray Crowned Rosy FinchCrater Lake, Oregon World Wide Work is a free bulletin about new books, films, and music published six times per year. Please share with others. This photo of a gray crowned rosy finch was taken at Crater Lake National Park.


Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sonmez (OR Books). Four Turkish political prisoners are being held underground. To pass the time before interrogation, they tell each other stories, parables, and riddles which as a whole provide the reader with a deeply engaging novel about life above ground.

And West is West by Ron Childress (Algonquin). A plot driven novel features two characters who don’t know each other – a woman who launches drone missiles on Afghanistan from a desk in Las Vegas and a young Wall Street whiz kid who creates algorithms to profit from the timing of those launches.

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond (Simon and Schuster). Two researchers who met in Antarctica while studying penguins and fell in love are back for a new season, but it does not go the way they imagined.

Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A collection of reporting pieces from the New Yorker and other publications shows Frazier’s range, from profiles of quirky people and odd situations to in-depth stories about projects grappling with social problems like homelessness.

Kingdom of the Unjust by Medea Benjamin (OR Books). At a time when the U.S. government fights to cover up the connection between the Saudi government and the men who carried out 9/11, a leading peace activist investigates the close relationship under Democrats and Republicans alike between the U.S. and the repressive dictatorship that is the largest customer for the American weapons industry.

Chain of Title by David Dayen (The New Press). In this dramatic true story, a nurse, a car dealership worker, and an insurance specialist in Florida during the Great Recession slowly uncovered massive foreclosure fraud carried out by banking executives across the U.S. This account masterfully mixes their personal experiences with the broader context, while revealing how the Obama administration has continued to turn its back on one of the biggest crimes in American history.

Blackballed by Lawrence Ross (St. Martin’s). An activist looks at the history and current state of racism in U.S. colleges.

Charleston Syllabus edited by Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain (University of Georgia). For those who want readings to provide context for the murder of nine African Americans at a church in South Carolina, this collection includes new essays plus excerpts from scholarly books and general-interest articles.

The South Side by Natalie Y. Moore (St. Martin’s). Police profiling is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to policies that promote racial segregation, discrimination, and inequality of wealth. A journalist explains how institutional racism works in her hometown of Chicago, drawing in part on her own family’s experiences.

Caught by Marie Gottschalk (Princeton). A comprehensive study of the explosion of the number of people incarcerated in America persuasively challenges reformers to be bolder both in proposed solutions and in strategies to win.

Prelude to Prison by Marsha Weissman (Syracuse University). The director of the Center for Community Alternatives gives voice to poor young people of color who have been suspended from school as society starts them in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Tomas Young’s War by Mark Wilkerson (Haymarket). A no-holds-barred biography reveals the personal life of a paralyzed Iraq War veteran who spoke out against the war during his final years.

How the World Breaks by Stan Cox and Paul Cox (The New Press). In reporting on the victims of disasters caused by man-made climate change and fossil fuel extraction, the authors question the goal of “resilience,” which they see as temporary adaptation to destructive trends rather than establishing true sustainability.

China on Strike edited by Hao Ren (Haymarket). Dozens of interviews document the experiences of Chinese workers protesting exploitation in factories that supply Apple, Nike, and other global corporations.

See You in the Streets by Ruth Sergel (University of Iowa). An artist and organizer who led a major coalition marking the 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle factory fire in New York explores a variety of interesting issues that come up in using art and history to advance the progressive movement.

Spain in Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). In the late 1930s, about 2,800 idealistic Americans volunteered to go to Spain to join the first military battle of what would become World War II. Spanish citizens were fighting fascist forces, armed by Hitler and Mussolini, for control of their country. While the U.S. government refused to help, Texaco provided oil on credit to the fascists. The story makes particularly interesting reading as corporate-funded fascists appear to be on the rise in a number of countries today.

Sing It! By Meryl Danziger (Seven Stories). A music teacher has created an easy-to-understand biography of Pete Seeger for young people.

Mycelial Mayhem by David and Kristin Sewak (New Society). You, too, can grow mushrooms at home.


Klamath. Independent filmmaker Aaron Moffatt spent three years capturing gorgeous footage in remote areas of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains along the border of Oregon and California. This 55-minute documentary shows the importance of interconnection and balance in an ecosystem like this.

When Justice Isn’t Just. Black people are shot by police and incarcerated at rates far higher than their white counterparts. This documentary shows the movement to change that and includes interviews with Black Lives Matter activists, police officials, civil rights and criminal defense attorneys, and more.

East of Salinas. A 53-minute documentary profiles a 3rd grader from a migrant farm worker family who, with support from his teacher, dreams of going to college someday – except that he is undocumented. Viewers learn in human terms about the obstacles faced by one of the two million undocumented children in the U.S.

Indian Point. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is just 35 miles from New York City and is up for re-licensing for the next 20 years with the strong support of federal regulators. The filmmaker got amazing access to the plant’s personnel to get their perspective, while showing the strong community movement pushing to shut the operation down.

Sworn Virgin. This most unusual feature film is about a girl in a remote village in Albania who resists limitations put on her because of her gender. In keeping with local custom, she agrees to live as a man and take an oath of eternal virginity. As she gets older, she begins to question her situation.


Alegria Da Casa by Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro (Anzic Records). Virtuoso musicians playing clarinet, bandolim, 7 string guitar, and percussion clearly are having fun as they play lively tunes in a variety of Brazilian musical traditions.

Still the Birds by Darryl Purpose (Blue Rock). Original songs delivered with a voice like James Taylor’s, including a love song duet in which the two singers each affectionately chronicle the other person’s flaws, a haunting story of a Vietnam draft dodger seeking revenge, and an ode to an old girlfriend’s dog.

Colvin & Earle. Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle sing about Ferguson, admitting you are wrong, the golden rule, and more.

Case/Lang/Veirs. Three alt-country women – Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs – join forces to produce a smooth sound and a variety of relationship stories.


World Wide Work -- films, books, music you may have missed

April 12, 2016

Green-Winged Teal FeathersGreen-Winged Teal FeathersLost Creek Lake, Oregon

World Wide Work is a free bulletin about new books, films, and music published online six times per year. Please share this edition with others. They can subscribe by emailing (There is no cost for subscribing, and we never share our email list with anyone.)


Runaway Inequality by Les Leopold (Labor Institute Press). This highly useful guide to economic justice explains with helpful facts and graphics that the wealth and power gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us is not a “single issue” but is closely tied to issues such as racism, immigration, equality for women, incarceration, climate change, health care, education, housing, trade policy, tax fairness, and military spending.

The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden (Akashic). Hidden history comes alive in this novel about an African American man from Georgia who became a musician in Harlem, played in Paris, lived through the horrors of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and spent his final years in the turmoil of the 1960s.

South Haven by Hirsh Sawhney (Akashic). A son of Hindu immigrants from India grows up in a New England suburb, where he struggles to find his way after his mother dies, while his father becomes immersed in anti-Muslim fundamentalism.

Rant, Chant, Chisme by Amalia Ortiz (Wings Press). An outstanding collection by a feminist Chicana performance poet from Texas artfully connects the personal and the political.

Someone Has to Die by Timothy Sheard (Hard Ball Press). In this mystery novel, a hospital nurse is wrongfully accused in the death of a patient. Meanwhile, the hospital’s new corporate owner is threatening to stop contributing to the workers’ health and pension fund. Our hero, a union steward and amateur detective, brings workers together to take on these challenges.

The Lamentations of Zeno by Ilija Trojanow (Verso). An irreverent scientist working as a travel guide on a cruise ship in Antarctica contemplates dramatic action as the intensity of his feelings about climate change increasingly clashes with the complacency of the passengers.

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar (Little, Brown). This novelist, who was raised in a Muslim family in Wisconsin, explores the many different ways that Muslims in America face tensions between outside cultural pressures and their faith.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Knopf). A love story between two teenagers anchors this novel about the experience of immigrants to the U.S. from Mexico and Panama.

Energy Revolution by Howard Johns (Permanent Publications). A British engineer and activist provides positive news from around the world about the shift to renewable energy sources and gives advice about how to help speed the transition.

The Hope in Leaving by Barbara Williams (Seven Stories). A successful actress and musical performer has written a memoir of her childhood that reads like a vivid novel about survival in poor logging towns, a dysfunctional family, and a close relationship with a brother suffering from mental illness.

Being in Pictures by Joanne Leonard (University of Michigan). A beautiful large format book presents nearly 200 creative photographs and collages produced over more than 40 years, together with succinct, revealing text about Leonard’s journey as a person and an artist. Themes include the end of a marriage, a miscarriage, single motherhood, the experience of being an identical twin, the decline of her parents, maleness seen from a woman’s point of view, and much more.

Pushout by Monique W. Morris (The New Press). Many black girls are criminalized by school systems, facing the dual threat of racism and sexism.

Incarceration Nations by Baz Dreisinger (Other Press). The founder of the Prison-to-College Pipeline program spent two years visiting and sometimes working in prisons in nine countries, including South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Australia, and Norway. Prisons are a mirror of each society’s culture, she writes, but her experiences also suggested some universal truths about incarceration, prevention, intervention, and reintegration.

GMO Myths and Truths by Claire Robinson, Michael Antoniou, and John Fagan (Earth Open Source). A detailed guide to the evidence and arguments about genetically modified crops and foods has been updated and condensed in this third edition.  

Unequal Time by Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel (Russell Sage). Our laws and employment relationships don’t take into account continual disruptions of work and family schedules by illness and family responsibilities. The impacts fall disproportionately on women and on people without wealth.

We Don’t Quit by Don Stillman (Chelsea Green). The former director of international affairs for the United Auto Workers describes that union’s efforts to support workers’ struggles in other countries, as well as support by unions from Brazil, South Africa, and Germany for auto worker organizing campaigns in the U.S.

Far Out edited by Wendy Barker and Dave Parsons (Wings Press). In this collection, poets writing now remember their experiences in the 1960s.


The Second Mother. A Brazilian woman left her daughter in her home village in order to find work in the city to support them both. For years, she has been a live-in housekeeper for a wealthy family and has internalized attitudes about class and her subservient place in the world. A crisis develops when her daughter, aspiring to go to college, comes to see her.

A Borrowed Identity. A brilliant Palestinian teenager is sent by his family to a top Israeli boarding school where he develops several close relationships and has to make choices about who he is.

Neptune. A 14-year-old orphan girl raised by a priest on an island off the coast of Maine is prompted by a tragic incident to start grappling with her own identity in this engaging feature film.

In The Game. This moving documentary focuses on the girl’s soccer team at a poor, mostly Latino public high school in Chicago, so underfunded that students have to bring toilet paper to school. Contrary to what Hollywood might have done with this subject, it shows not only the girls’ admirable determination and dedicated coach but also the ongoing consequences of denying them the resources that more privileged kids are given.

Boone. Beautiful footage, unusual editing, and the absence of narration or talking head interviews help this documentary convey the hard work and idealism of three young farmers trying to make a go of it in southern Oregon.

Invisible Scars. A filmmaker who was sexually abused by her father decided to talk openly about how that affected her life, to interview other victims of abuse, to show how widespread the problem is, and to explore how survivors are overcoming those experiences.


Cass County by Don Henley. The former member of the Eagles has written some good country songs. Praying for Rain is about climate change: “I ain’t no wise man, but I ain’t no fool, and I believe that Mother Nature is taking us to school. Maybe we just took too much, and put too little back. It isn’t knowledge, it’s humility we lack.” Waiting Tables is about a single-mom waitress. No Thank You is about not being fooled by corporate and political sales pitches at a time when we have “Space Age machinery (but) Stone Age emotions.”