Book Corner 2019.41

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Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker by Kathleen Hale

I was intending to read only free samples on my Kindle all night, and not buy a thing – but this sample left me in the middle of the first essay with such a cliffhanger, there was no way I could leave it. So I actually bought this thing and read the whole thing, and ended up grateful it was only six essays.

The first one is about how the author couldn’t stop obsessing over this possibly-fake person who has given her a bad review on Goodreads. Apparently there is a world of book bloggers on Goodreads and elsewhere in the blogosphere who can make or break a book, and get very personal about it; and there is a world of people out there who cannot simply shut down their dang computer before things get wacky (that I knew).

NONE OF IT IS REAL, PEOPLE, I want to say – go step outside and breathe the fresh air!

So the next essay was about the author’s molestation in a shady massage parlor when she was a college freshman; and the jury trial she participated in to keep the man behind bars. This was gripping and sad. But she kept dropping one-sentence paragraphs of foreboding that didn’t end up leading much of anywhere.

Then there was a strange one about hunting and killing a feral hog I didn’t understand or enjoy. Then one about attending a Miss America pageant, which I enjoyed more; then a couple more wacky ones, including one about searching for a mountain lion, to end the mini-book.

I am usually really into the personal woman’s essay, but I don’t relate much to Hale and her weird dangerous wild animal obsessions. ( )

Book Corner 2019.40

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Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

I love Joel Salatin. He is a crazy libertarian organic farmer in Virginia. I have his EVERYTHING I WANT TO DO IS ILLEGAL; and I’ve read his YOU CAN FARM. The latter is his attempt to inspire and instruct young people considering embarking on a life of farming. I loved it, even though there is no way I am ever going to become a farmer.

Here, Salatin rants about how far we have gotten away from “normal” (hence the title) with our industrial food system. He ends each chapter with positive suggestions, some more realistic than others, for taking individual action to end the insanity and start doing something normal again – growing a tomato plant, keeping chickens as pets, etc.

This totally resonated with me. The crazy thing I’ve always thought about books along the lines of “My Year of Growing All My Own Food” and such, is that they treat what used to be normal as a miracle – indeed, case in point, the title of Barbara Kingsolver’s ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE. What we think is fodder for an entire book used to just be LIFE. Of course your grew your own food. People of 200 years ago would be might puzzled that anyone would want to read or write a book about it.

It’s NORMAL. Salatin uses the word “birthright” in this book; it was actually in reference to hunting, but I like to think of it in relation to the whole shebang of agriculture and enjoying nature. It’s our BIRTHRIGHT.

The book is repetitive and ranty, not exactly a masterpiece of literature, but it has been so inspiring to me, I go with 5 stars. I’m inspired to actually double down on my local food intake. I’m researching local grain and upgrading my dairy; I’m using more butter in place of vegetable oils (big sacrifice there, not); just putting a lot more thought into it. And I wasn’t exactly unconscious to begin with.

Salatin even ends the book by confiding in us an experience where he actually broke down in tears as he was about to leave his homestead for a month or two, a very long stretch of traveling for him. He had to stop the car and cry before he had even left the lane leading to his house. I’m touched, I really am.

And although I no longer identify as libertarian – and was not interested in the rants against the government which at times lurked just below surface, and at other times reared their ugly heads – I have to say simply that there’s something refreshing in reading arguments for organic, back-to-the-land living coming from a place other than basic hippie liberal. It’s just different and enlightening and proves that these things don’t have to be “polarized.” Everyone benefits from better food. It’s ridiculous that this should be a politically one-sided issue – like climate change. ( )