- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (Aug. 22 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802140114
- ISBN-13: 978-0802140111
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.9 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #72,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Second Nature: A Gardener's Education Paperback – Aug 22 2003
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In his articles and in best-selling books such as The Botany of Desire Michael Pollan has established himself as one of our most important and beloved writers on modern mans place in the natural world A new literary classic Second Nature has become a manifesto not just for gardeners but for environmentalists everywhere As delicious a meditation on one mans relationships with the Earth as any you are likely to come upon The New York Times Book Review Second Nature captures the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation With chapters ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn a dispatch from one mans war with a woodchuck to an essay about the sexual politics of roses Pollan has created a passionate and eloquent argument for reconceiving our relationship with nature
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This is long winded, and you may not understand it all, but if you read the book and pay more attention to what Pollan says, and less on how he says it (how well it's written and how entertaining it is), you'll pick up on the philosophical stuff. You'll pick up on the meaning. And I suggest that you do, you'll rethink a lot of the thoughts you may have on the environment and on culture.
NATURE contains several distinct sections Pollan calls "Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter" but his essays do not "follow" the gardening year. For example, "Fall", the third section of the book is about the destruction of Cathedral Pines, a nature preserve owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. Mr. Pollan thinks the local town folk (he is one) should have decided "what to do" in the aftermath of the storm which toppled the old pine trees that had inhabited the Cathedral Pines since the days of the American Revolution. Pollan would have done better to call this section "Why I think I understand Mother Nature better than the Nature Conservancy." And, maybe he does, but his essay is angry, and his anger affects his argument. After reading his essay, I am not persuaded the Nature Conservancy failed since Pollan fails to provide their side of the argument which might have been quite reasonable.
The best part of Pollan's book contains his autobiographical essays about life with his father who refused to mow the lawn much to the consternation of his upscale neighbors; life with his maternal grandfather who made mega-bucks as a professional gardener and green grocer; and Pollan's own attempts to take up gardening as an avocation. Anyone who has ever gardened will enjoy these sections because as all good gardeners know, most folks learn through trial and error. Mr. Pollen says there are few "Green Thumbs" i.e. Green thumbs exist, but they are rare.
The book is laced with historical factoids--an eclectic assortment of information Mr. Pollan gleaned from many articles and books by garden/nature and other writers including James Frazier, Thoreau, Emerson, Alexander Pope, Henry Mitchell, Eleanor Perenyi, Allen Lacey, Elizabeth Lawrence, and Katherine White who wrote garden essays for the New Yorker magazine. Mr. Pollen is advertised on the jacket of his book as an "Executive Editor" of Harper's magazine, and as I read his book, I formed an image of him snipping bits and pieces from the various articles and books he edited over time and sticking them together, i.e. a cut and paste job. Mr. Pollan's book needed a better editor, and I haven't read such an entertaining, provocative and frustrating book in a long time.
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