Book Review: Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures

It’s been wonderful to see new books about animal minds and emotions, from Barbara King’s How Animals Grieve to Virginia Morell’s Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures (Crown, 2013), which offers a fascinating look at the emotional lives of a wide range of animals. Morell writes that it was in part due …

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A Q&A with Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise

A Q&A with Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures   Q: One of my favorite stories from this book is about the archerfish—how they lined up in a row to look at everyone, and especially how they liked to spray water into the eyes (and noses, and …

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Book Review: Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police

So what is this book doing on EcoLit Books? Bear with me. Let me first back up about five years. I was researching my novel The Tourist Trail, wondering to what extent law enforcement agencies had tried to infiltrate animal rights groups. I had heard firsthand of an attempt of the FBI to infiltrate The Sea …

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Announcing the Bear Deluxe Magazine Doug Fir Fiction Award

Calling all fiction writers: Save the date (September 3 deadline) for submissions to the Bear Deluxe Magazine Doug Fir Fiction Award, co-sponsored by the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, Ashland Creek Press, and Hawthorne Books. Please see below for complete guidelines, and you can also click here for details and more info. The Bear …

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Book Review: Penguins: Natural History and Conservation

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a longtime fan of co-author Dee Boersma’s work. Years ago, I was part of a volunteer project at Punta Tombo, assisting Dee and her team with a penguin census. It was a week that changed the direction of my life in ways I couldn’t possibly …

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The Earth Goddess and Fiction

 

Goddess by Baraka Berger
Goddess by Baraka Berger

With the Summer Solistice upon us, it’s a good time to revisit the Earth Goddess and her literary legacy. In sync with the first Earth Day in 1970, when I was an impressionable 14 year-old, women were throwing off the shackles of patriarchy in the streets and in their homes, even in churches, chucking out any male god who lived on a cloud. Many turned to the Old Religion, governed by the Goddess, who once reigned over a peaceful, matrilineal world in harmony with Nature. Then, according to legend, the priests came, driving her and her followers underground where they were called witches, and thus began civilization’s slide into constant war and ecological devastation.

 

Women writers of the 70’s and early 80’s incorporated this mythopoeic vision into their novels, and I read them all. Marge Piercy, in Woman on the Edge of Time, wrote about an ideal society based on the assumed female principles of peace and love of the earth, set against a cautionary tale of continued male domination and its attendant disregard for the planet. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood created a dystopia of sexism and violence after men become infertile by a toxic event of their own making. Other writers contemplated the past instead of the future. Marion Zimmer Bradley retold the King Arthur myth from Morgan le Fay’s point of view in The Mists of Avalon, making the goddess worshipper the heroine and not the villain. Jean Auel, in Clan of the Cave Bear, placed the goddess plunk in the center of the Stone Age.

mists-of-avalon

By the mid-80’s, as women put on their shoulder pads and floppy ties and went to the office, feminism began to pull away from the Earth Goddess. Flouting one’s fertility and innate peaceful nature at the office was not going to break any glass ceilings. The focus had turned to job equality and pay equity, so academic and political interests set out to prove there were no differences between the genders. And rightly so. It’s a small step from archetype to stereotype.

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Book Review: The Hidden Life of Wolves

THE HIDDEN LIFE OF WOLVES  Jim and Jamie Dutcher National Geographic Press $25, 210 pages For six years they shared a 25-acre enclosure at the base of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains with a pack of wolves. Their office was a Mongolian yurt; their sleeping quarters a canvas tent. The path to the outhouse required frequent snow-shoveling …

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Book Review: Oceana, by Ted Danson

Cheers

“Sam Writes a Book”

FADE IN:

INT. BAR – HAPPY HOUR

IT’S AN AVERAGE NIGHT. USUAL CUSTOMERS PLUS REGULARS. SAM IS POURING A BEER FROM THE TAP AND CARLA AND COACH ARE TIDYING UP THE ROOM. FRASIER SITS AT THE BAR AND SAM PUTS THE BEER DOWN IN FRONT OF HIM.

 FRASIER

Well, I hear congratulations are in order, Sam. You, an author. Will wonders never cease?

 SAM

Thank you, Frasier. Coming from you, that’s quite a compliment.

 CARLA

A book? Your life in the Red Sox?

CLIFF

Your life as a drunk?

SAM

PICKS UP A GLASS AND STARTS CLEANING IT

Neither. It’s about how to save the oceans. I didn’t want to become a vain jerk who just thought about myself. So I started thinking about the sea.

 FRASIER

That’s commendable, Sam. There’s nothing worse than a vain jerk.

 COACH AND SAM ROLL THEIR EYES

 CARLA

Commendable? The only thing Sam could find bigger than himself was the sea? Isn’t that the thing that covers 75% of the world? What an ego!

 COACH

Leave him alone, Carla. It’s not easy being Sam Malone. What’s your book called, Sammy?

 SAM

Oceana. And for your information Carla, for modesty’s sake I use a pseudo.. pseudo ..

 FRASIER

Nym. Pseudonym.

SAM

Yeah, that’s right. As far as the world is concerned, I’m Ted Danson. Michael D’Orso wrote it with me, and the good folks at Rodale Press published it, and you know they don’t do any trash.

 FRASIER

I’ll be the judge of that.

 CARLA

Oh come on, snooty pants. Give him a chance. Tell us what it’s about, boss! Are there pirates and sea monsters?

 NORM

Is there seafood?

 WOODY

What about boats and surfing? I used to surf when I was a kid. I hit my head on rocks a lot.

 THEY ALL GIVE ONE ANOTHER A KNOWING LOOK

 SAM

It’s about all those things and more. It’s about what we’re doing to the oceans, with oil spills, climate change, plastic trash, acidification, over-fishing…

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Book Review: Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals by Rory Freedman

Rory Freedman’s new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals, is a must-read for anyone who believes himself or herself to be an animal lover. The main idea behind this book is that many people who think they love animals in fact unknowingly participate in any number of things that do animals great …

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