5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful words and wise thoughts
Barbara Kingsolver is always a favourite because of her wonderful use of words. She is an artist in language. This book took me quite a while to read because I had to think so much about the ideas she was conveying. "Food for thought". I liked the essay format in this case, it worked well.
I have bought it for friends. I know they will enjoy the book as much...
Published 4 days ago by Karen Sandford
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, But Be Warned
Having recently read High Tide in Tucson, Barbara Kingsolver's first book of essays, I was looking forward to Small Wonder. I plowed into it, intending to read it in one- or two-hour chunks, in a few days. Big mistake.
The essays in Small Wonder are depressing and serious for the most part. It starts with thoughts on September 11, 2001, and revives the theme often...
Published on May 23 2004 by takingadayoff
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5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful words and wise thoughts,
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This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)Barbara Kingsolver is always a favourite because of her wonderful use of words. She is an artist in language. This book took me quite a while to read because I had to think so much about the ideas she was conveying. "Food for thought". I liked the essay format in this case, it worked well.
I have bought it for friends. I know they will enjoy the book as much as I.
2.0 out of 5 stars A Not-So-Tasty Organic Stew,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)Barbara Kingsolver is an excellent writer and I have no trouble with anyone espousing her political views. It is her right as it is anyone else's. I admire her courage of conviction and many of the practices in her life. That said, however, I did find it a little hard to swallow the not-so-subtle lectures from an environmentalist who writes books that kill trees, lives in Tucson (aren't the organic gardens she writes of so glowingly all irrigated? How is that such a resource savings?), maintains two homes, jets around the world, and lives the way she chooses, not the way she has to. But then, I have always been a big fan of ironies.
Another irony that struck me was the unpleasant whiff of commercialism in packaging a collection of essays that seemed to capitalize on the events of 9-11 from someone who writes so eloquently about the soul-destroying aspects of rampant commercialism. While her writing is always a pleasure, her views seemed a tad simplistic at times. The 9-11 attacks were caused by global warming and multinational corporations -- nothing about US policies in the Middle East, religious fanaticism, and bad foreign policy in general. Homelessness can be solved by seeing that everyone has a home. (Having worked with several homeless people, I can testify that the solutions are just a tad more complicated than that.)
I was genuinely confused by her views on trade. If I buy food even from other parts of the United States is that a Bad Thing or a Good Thing? She points out that much of our food travels a long way to get to us -- conveniently ignoring the fact that people have sought goods from other lands for millenia -- but justifies her coffee because it is shade grown; I guess that cancels out the distance it is transported and the middlemen who also profit. And she rightly criticizes the big corporations who profit by using others and destroying land, but has nothing to say about the poor people in other lands who are using their little bit of commerce to feed their families.
She describes an encounter with several teachers who were nervous and afraid to come to work the day after the Columbine shootings. She is able to calm these silly gooses by pointing out that they are no more likely to die than any other day. But she herself is upset at 9-11, even though she doesn't live anywhere near the attacks, lost no one, and has no television. It just seems as though her feelings are genuine but others are shallow.
A final, personal quibble: I'd love to read something from a Southerner who doesn't have to point out that They Have Standards. I suppose that her comment about not being able to have company without doing some tidying because she is a Southerner was meant to be a little self-deprecatory humor, but the implication from her and others who keep doing this is that Other Folks are comfortable just sitting around in their underwear and throwing more trash onto the carpet. Believe it or not, other folks tidy up and invite people to dinner, can you imagine?
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, But Be Warned,
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)Having recently read High Tide in Tucson, Barbara Kingsolver's first book of essays, I was looking forward to Small Wonder. I plowed into it, intending to read it in one- or two-hour chunks, in a few days. Big mistake.
The essays in Small Wonder are depressing and serious for the most part. It starts with thoughts on September 11, 2001, and revives the theme often. While we were all obsessed with those events for some time, it was a bit jarring to return to that obsession almost three years later. Not that it isn't relevant or that we aren't obsessing about our current crisis, the Iraq War and its consequences. And not that these things aren't obsession-worthy. It was just that after the mainly upbeat and diverse essays of High Tide in Tucson, I found these dark and troubling essays tough going.
Don't get me wrong. I like Kingsolver's writing and I agree with nearly everything she says. I was just overwhelmed by the sadness and gravity of the subjects. I should have read the essays in shorter spurts. Instead I overdosed myself into a funk. Fortunately, a brisk walk to the nearby creek to check up on this spring's first batch of ducklings put things back into perspective.
I highly recommend High Tide in Tucson, and I recommend Small Wonder with a warning -- read in in small doses.
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and profound,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)"Small Wonder" is an excellent collection of essays that are at once touching and profound. Some of them are so real and heart-felt that you'll find yourself in tears. Others are carefully crafted insight into the human condition. And there are something like twenty-three or so of them, so if one disappoints (which it won't), don't worry--there's more.
Also recommended: Jackson McCrae's "The Bark of the Dogwood."
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent and inspiring,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)This book made me laugh, cry, and most of all think critically about issues on both a macro/global level as well as an individual/personal level. She is my favorite author but this stands out as one of her more impressive works. I found myself dog-earring pages I wanted to refer back to for inspiration and I had to stop because there were so many brilliant nuggets in the collection. i am amazed at her ability to articulate both the frightening aspects of where our world is headed as well as the sense of wonder and delight at nature - human nature and the natural environment. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future, regardless of your position on the political spectrum!
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Hardcover)This thoughtful and beautifully written book was a pleasure to read. It certainly gave me much to ponder. Bravo!
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book,
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)Loved the book, even though I only agree with 80 or 90 per cent of what she says. The book encourages me that maybe there is room in the media for someone who doesn't sound like a gap-toothed, knuckle-dragging flag waver. She does describe herself as a flag waver, by the way.
One customer critic complains that she found herself debating Kingsolver throughout the audio version, which is the one I "read." Isn't stimulating debate the purpose of an essay?
It seems that about two thirds of the critics here don't like what she says. Why then do they focus on denouncing her personally as radical, un-american, etc., instead of critiquing what she says?
4.0 out of 5 stars Not easy to read -- for the right reasons.,
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)Having read High Tide in Tucson (and pretty much everything else BK has written), I was expecting more of the same in this collection of essays. Nope.
While there are several that put you RIGHT THERE in the desert or the rain forest, loving every second of it, there are some that are a little more difficult to stay with ... Not because of the writing, but because Kingsolver doesn't let the reader off the hook. She doesn't have the smugness of other ecologically-minded writers ("I raise my own vegetables so I'm better than you") but she also doesn't let you simply cruise across the surface without thinking twice about your own lifestyle.
Do you really NEED that gas-guzzling SUV to make it through the rough terrain of the McDonald's drive-through? In fact, do you really need to be going to McDonald's in the first place?
This isn't a comforting book, and Kingsolver is blunt about her concerns with environmental issues. If you read it and are feeling defensive ... maybe there's a reason for that.
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat lackluster for such a brilliant author,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)I was eager to read _Small Wonder_ after immensely enjoying Kingsolver's previous book of essays, _High Tide in Tucson_, as well as just about everything else she's written. I was disappointed to find it much less engaging. Kingsolver generally uses a very deft approach to moral ambiguities, presenting the reader with the issues and then for the most part leaving us to draw our own conclusions. In this book, however, I felt I was being beaten over the head with her ideology. Never mind that I agree with her on most points; I still didn't appreciate having her opinions stuffed down my throat. It may be that our country's current dismal outlook on the political and environmental scenes are causing her to become more angry and shrill. If so, this seems like a better way to turn readers off than on. If she weren't one of my favorite writers, I would probably have given this 2 stars rather than 3.
2.0 out of 5 stars small minded,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)I hated this book. I hated the preachy, self-righteous tone that kept popping up regularly. I don't think many women who work away from home but must take care of their house and families in addition to their job, would appreciate the not-so-veiled contempt for people who don't have the time or money to stay home, eat bonbons, commune with nature, and raise all their veggies from scratch. Just because someone chooses to grab a cup of joe from Dunkin' Donuts instead of making their own shade grown coffee does NOT mean they are evil, ignorant or lack compassion, self-awareness and respect for the planet. This kind of mindset is dangerous, juvenile and only serves to alienate people who might otherwise be open to your views on how to make the world a better place.
Read Anne Lamott or Nancy Mairs on much the same themes that Kingsolver does here and you'll come away feeling like the author is a real and flawed person like 99 percent of the population, not someone who does not practice the compassion she preaches. The only passion this writer has is for judging others - and finding them lacking.
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Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver (Paperback - April 3 2003)
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