Eye see: This unidentified Crow woman's dress is adorned with eyeteeth of elk.
Photo by Richard Throssel
This is the autumn of our content
WITH THOSE CRAZY, hazy, lazy days of you-know-what now waning, curling up with a good book that doesn't shake sand out of its spine when you pick it up is becoming more appealing. In keeping with the Independent's tradition of sharing the creative bounty of the county, we offer below short synopses of books either written or illustrated by our Sonoma County friends and neighbors. The shorts are written by Gretchen Giles and Marina Wolf.
Crow Indian Photographer:
The Work of Richard Throssel
University of New Mexico Press; $37.95 paper
OLD PHOTOGRAPHS of North American Indians have been reduced to stock shots, interchangeable in the eyes of the public. Ah, we might say, A Noble War Chief, Wise Elders, Sullen Schoolchildren. But Peggy Albright sidesteps that whole dynamic in an exploration of the work of one of the most prolific photographers of early 20th-century Native Americans. With careful, articulate essays on Throssel's life and work, accompanied by some 75 photos from his expansive portfolio, this Sonoma County scholar and journalist draws our attention instead to the underlying truths of the individual and the culture during a time of inexorable change and transition for the Crows, truths that Throssel both captured and, as an unaffiliated "mixed-race" Cree adopted by the Crows, was captured by. Present-day tribal members participate in this work to great effect, providing rare commentary on the photographer's subjects. This serious, yet engaging book offers room for rumination on the anthropological currents that seethe and swirl just under the glass-plate surface.--M.W.
Richard Anstruther, editor
Everyday Favorites of Sonoma County
High Gain Press; $14.95
OK. SO I'M A PIMP and a panderer, but at least I'm not a liar. I did contribute some sparkling copy to Everyday Favorites, but we won't dwell on that. Let's dwell instead on the fact that I'm not making a dime on royalties, so can truthfully say that this handy guide, set for November publication and shaped to stay in the glove compartment of the car, offers well-researched tips and tops from gardening to shopping to dining to playing in each section of the county. Designed for the newcomer with needs ranging from the services of a plumber to a pint of fresh crème fraîche to the happy glories of a well-spent Sunday outside, Everyday Favorites is thoughtfully cross-referenced with an emphasis on kid-friendly spots, and gives a quick overview of county favorites. Everyday.--G.G.
Frances Ann Day
Latina and Latino Voices in
Literature for Children and Teenagers
SO YOU'RE a culturally sensitive parent or teacher, and your kids are getting tired of Dr. Seuss and his Loraxes? Rev up your well-rounded library with this excellent, easy-to-use paperback, researched and written by retired Sebastopol educator Frances Ann Day. There's an amazing amount of information here: biographies, book lists, and reviews, all fully annotated with related works and summaries of themes and genres. Also included are activity, holiday, and resource appendixes, and even a thought-provoking guide to assessing a book for bias. Intelligently written and thoroughly indexed, this is an essential reference work for the caregivers of future generations. Open and inclusive literary choices should be offered to our youth, and Day's book is a great leap in that direction. --M.W.
Crown Publications; $21
USING SOME 20 black-and-white photos to add a truer sense of place, local author Lynn Freed's latest (Home Ground and The Bungalow are her two previous works) has been described simply by the Kirkus Review as "a pleasure." The Mirror chronicles the life and passions of one Agnes La Grange, a woman of beauty and some resource who immigrates from England to South Africa to make her way. Gaining employment as a maid in a home where the wife is dying, Agnes makes love to and falls in love with the man of the house, an elderly gentleman who sets her up with her own hotel after she gives birth to his daughter. As her daughter, Leah, grows, Agnes marries several times more, and their lives intertwine and release in the way that mothers and daughters, women and their lovers, do.--G.G.
Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self
Celestial Arts Publishing; $18.95
THE ENTIRE SPECTRUM of whole-self health receives a thoughtfully blended treatment in this new book by Anodea Judith, a Sonoma County therapist. As schematically sound as a really good car manual, this book aligns Western understandings of individual development against the rich vibrancy of the ancient Chakra system. The charts and diagrams are sensible and comprehensive, appropriate for both quick, standing-in-the-bookstore-aisle scanning or deep reading and meditation. Eclectic and warm without feeling fake, this book is accessible to almost everybody: self-help fans, Chakra-ists of all stripes, and therapists and counselors, who might find it particularly enlightening in its integration of movement, meditation, and other personal-growth approaches with traditional individuation processes.--M.W.
To Love and Be Loved
Bantam Books; $21.95
LOVE SONGS, love poems, love stories, lovelovelove--the elusive oneness that everyone searches for, the birthright of each human to give to and receive from each other. And yet we First Worlders appear to be absolutely woeful at giving and receiving love. Or so believes local author Sam Keen (Fire in the Belly), stating a persuasive case for the practice of loving oneself and those around us in a manner that is deep, true, and satisfying. Using personal narrative and stories told to him by students and friends, Keen maps out scenarios and solutions, writing in a quietly elegant voice that calmly reminds us of that which we were born knowing: that we were born to love.--G.G.
Rebecca Lawton, Diana Lawton,
and Susan Panttaja
Discover Nature in the Rocks
Stackpole Books; $14.95
IMAGINE, suggest these local authors, living in a place and never knowing a single thing about it. Where's the market, the school, the best picnic spot, the name of that rock over there? Ah, there's the rub. Because, gentle reader, most of us do live in a place without knowing a single thing about it. And that "it" is geology, the study of the earth and its history as written in stone. Penned for the curious older student, ranging in age from sixth grade to 106th grade, Discover Nature offers fun ideas for collecting and creating your own rock-hound specialties (as in teaching the idea of conglomerate formations using the Rice Krispy Treats recipe), as well as easy-to-understand explanations of basic formations and phenomena from here to the moon.--G.G.
Little Red Monkey
Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Dutton Children's Books; $15.99
THOSE OF US who have long longed to set poor Curious George free from the clutches of the Man in the Yellow Hat now have something to rejoice over, as the funky antics of London's Little Red Monkey dance him into and then out of captivity. Illustrated with the chunky, colorful work of Frank Remkiewicz--the artist behind Graton-based London's successful series of Froggy books--this tale of a monkey who likes to dance in his underpants is a sweet read-aloud book for the very young.
Equus: Plucking mangoes in the jungle is a dream come true in 'If I Had a Horse.'
If I Had a Horse
Illustrated by Brooke Scudder
Chronicle Books; $13.95
Elegantly illustrated by Brooke Scudder (Francis the Earthquake Dog), If I Had a Horse finds London in poetic form, creating rhythmic sentences following a predictable three-paragraph pattern that changes just enough to delight young children with a surprise as a little girl visits many places in her dreams. Satisfying to read aloud, If I Had a Horse pulsates linguistically in lovely counterpoint to Scudder's bright illustrations.--G.G.
Chance Massaro and
Three Pillars of Effectiveness
Power Communication; $25
THREE IS A POWERFUL number: the Trinity, the Greek Fates, the legs on a good kitchen stool. It's a fortuitous number on which to base an effectiveness manual, lending a sense of stability to what can otherwise be a baffling process of getting your life and your work straightened out. Chance Massaro's Sebastopol-based company has the subtitle "Exploring the Power of Love in Organizations," but most of the material in her self-published book could also be applied to personal goals. Frankly, this book is exercise-heavy, which leads to some disjointedness in maintaining focus on those Three Pillars, but it is potentially handy for that same reason: photocopy the forms, pass 'em around the staff room, and get your whole work group in on it.--M.W.
Robert R. Schutz
The $30,000 Solution: A Guaranteed Annual Income for Every American
Fithian Press; $12.95
SANTA ROSAN Robert Schutz, Ph.D., has no problem with earned income. Go ahead and get that raise, work overtime, and rise through the ranks with a commensurate salary. That's just fine with Schutz. It's your stocks, bonds, inheritances, rent, and other income that's earned--but not earned through sweat and skill--that he believes should be redistributed so that everyone has enough. A co-founder and former public affairs director of radio station KPFA 94.1 FM and with a deep background in economics, Schutz argues that beyond each person's salary, his redistribution plan would provide every citizen with an extra $30 grand upon which to eke out an existence. Do we see Ross Perot jumping up and down with joy over this plan? No? We like it even more.--G.G.
Still life: "Take time to remain still," reminds Christine Walker.
A Painter's Garden: Cultivating the Creative Life
Warner Books; $18.95
NEW LIFE EMERGING before anyone sees, disappointments that never make it to the public eye . . . Sebastopol artist Christine Walker harvests these and other commonalities of painting and gardening into a joyfully organic and relaxed journal of her creative life. Overflowing with primary colors from her own paintings, Walker's book has the same sensual pull as a plot full of zinnias. And then, when you get in close and read the prose--intimate musings on digging, puttering, harvesting, and gopher parties--you can almost run your fingers through the richness of experience, insight, and caring that makes art and beauty possible. --M.W.
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From the Sept. 11-17, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
© Metro Publishing Inc.