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

September 15, 2022

The Patience of a HeronThe Patience of a HeronNetarts, Oregon

Here’s the latest World Wide Work update.

BOOKS

True Biz by Sara Novic (Random House). Joys, challenges, and injustices faced by Deaf teenagers are at the heart of this edifying novel about three Deaf high school students who are coming of age and experiencing a political awakening.

Summer of Smoke by Josh Gross (Outsider). A satirical novel shows what life feels like these days to young people in an Oregon tourist town (Ashland) who face an uncertain future filled with climate-fueled fires and smoke.

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (Harper). Written in response to the Great Recession of 2008, this creative and often humorous novel captures the condition of many men who aren’t sure how to maintain family relationships and self-esteem as corporate greed drives down living standards.

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis (Thorndike). A member of the Umpqua tribe who was born on the Grand Ronde reservation in Oregon in 1953 wrote this novel for both children and adults, drawing on her experience after the U.S. government “terminated” her tribe and relocated her family to Los Angeles.

Wilderness by Anthony Schmitz. A master of irony and humor spins this entertaining yarn about white settlers on the Midwestern frontier and a scam artist who takes advantage of their greed. This and other novels by the same author are now available free here.

Where River Turns to Sky by Gregg Kleiner (Avon). Old people In a small Oregon town escape their grim lives in a nursing home to form a somewhat shaky commune in an old house.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Ballantine). The challenges faced by Chinese immigrants to Jamaica and by Jamaican immigrants to Great Britain form the backdrop of this fable about a woman who goes to great lengths to be free and to pass on a better life to her children.

Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov (Deep Vellum). Most residents of a small community in eastern Ukraine have fled the interminable fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian loyalists, but the main character of this slow-moving novel has stayed in the “grey zone” between the two sides to tend to his bees. Eventually, he decides to take his bees to Crimea for the summer, where he knows a Muslim beekeeping family facing persecution from the Russian occupiers.

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee (One World). White people in America have often been told that equity for people of color will come at their expense. The chair of the board of Color of Change shows that those with the most wealth and power have used this divide-and-conquer story to impose policies that hurt all working people. She uses examples from communities across the U.S. to show that all working people benefit from multiracial organizing for liberty and justice for all. The author also discusses this in this webinar.

To Raise a Boy by Emma Brown (One Signal). Preventing sexual assault and harassment is only the first step. The reporter who brought to light Christine Blasey Ford’s account of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh interviewed researchers, teachers, coaches, parents, men, and boys to explore the question: how can boys be raised to be fully human, healthy, respectful, and happy adults?

Coal, Cages, Crisis by Judah Schept (NYU). More than 350 new prisons were built in rural areas as mass incarceration ramped up. Appalachia was targeted for more than its share as the coal industry was declining and union jobs were disappearing. One community in eastern Kentucky successfully opposed a planned new federal prison and proposed better alternatives for community development.

Care-Centered Politics by Robert Gottlieb (MIT). A wide-ranging survey shows that an economic and political system based on profit is not able to address inequality, climate change, systemic racism, or global pandemics, and that new policies, institutions, and practices based on caring for each other and for the environment are needed instead. 

Gentrification Is Inevitable, and Other Lies by Leslie Kern (Verso). Wealthy developers, land speculators, corporate landlords, and their political allies tell us that gentrification is like the weather – there is nothing anyone can do about it. This intersectional analysis looks at gentrification through lenses of class, gender, and race to show how it actually works in today’s economy and to suggest ways to resist.

Fight Like Hell by Kim Kelly (One Signal). An activist journalist who has covered many of the growing number of union organizing campaigns around the country recounts inspiring stories from the history of American labor that are not taught in school. She tells about workers – many of them women and people of color – who organized in factories, service work, airlines, laundries, fields, mines, and many other industries, both in the past and in the current era.

How Birds Live Together by Marianne Taylor (Princeton). Spectacular photographs are accompanied by information about the types of homes and communities in which birds live.

Pollinator Anthology by Pollinator Project Rogue Valley. A 300-page anthology of photographs, paintings, poems, and factual information celebrates and educates about pollinators and native plants at a time when they are threatened by climate change, development, pesticides, and habitat loss. (I contributed 16 photographs from the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.)

FILMS

Elemental. This documentary about wildfires in the West features firefighters and scientists who say that a policy of fighting every fire can’t work given the impact of climate change. Some of the approaches advocated instead include letting fires burn when they don’t threaten homes, preserving old-growth forests that are more fire resilient, making sure structures are built or retrofitted to protect against burning embers, and learning from the ways indigenous peoples used fire. The otherwise thoughtful film begins with an exceedingly dramatic segment on the horrors of the fire that wiped out the town of Paradise, CA, that may be hard for some fire survivors to watch.

Sand Storm. In this intense feature film, women in a patriarchal Bedouin village try to take steps toward greater freedom.

Minamata. Based on a true story, this feature film follows famed photographer W. Eugene Smith as he goes to a small community in Japan to document the devastating impact of mercury poisoning caused by a large chemical company. The company stops at nothing to try to keep his photographs from being seen.

Fear. While walking in the woods, a widowed schoolteacher in a small Bulgarian village encounters a wandering African refugee. Like others in her community, she is afraid of him – until they get to know each other.  

Buffaloed. A young woman from a poor family will do anything to get out of her hometown of Buffalo and pursue the American dream. After brushes with the law, she becomes a debt collector and learns to use unethical practices to hound people like herself. More trouble ensues.

Sagebrush to Sea. A couple hiked nearly 200 miles through the mountains from Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border to Crescent City on the coast. This 47-minute documentary shares their ecological knowledge as well as beautiful scenery.

MUSIC

Live Forever. Some of Billy Joe Shaver’s best-known songs are performed by Amanda Shires, Miranda Lambert, Margo Price, Edie Brickell, Willie Nelson, Ryan Bingham, Steve Earle, and more.

Until Now by Carrie Newcomer. The Midwestern singer tries to make sense of what’s happening to our world and also enjoys some humor:

I'm doing the best I can
At least that's what I plan
I'm trying to be the person that
my dog thinks I am


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