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reading recap - Terrafactive Armageddon

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November 29th, 2006

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10:51 am - reading recap
I just finished up Collapse by Jared Diamond, as well as reading The Shark God (formerly titled The Last Heathen) by Charles Montgomery. An interesting confluence, since I've been reading the Diamond book off and on for about a year, and picked up the Montgomery from the library just now on the recommendation of osmie - both talk about the Solomon Islands and the environmental devastation taking place there.

In Diamond's book, of course, it is the focus of his narrative, while in Montgomery's it is simply another scenic description in passing during his travels to retrace the missionary journeys of his great-grandfather. It was a striking confirmation of Diamond's observations to have them echoed in vivid detail as Montgomery's must traverse a logging site on a visit to an island with a rain-making stone. This happens to include convincing the managers that Montgomery isn't from an environmental organization and promising not to take photographs.

I'd hoped before checking it out Montgomery's book would be a little less, um, sensational? and a little more anthropological, but that was deliberately counter to his aims. He heads out to Melanesia in quest of a quasi-religious epiphany, and it's a fascinating personal journey. I was able to glean some of what I was looking for from it in any case, except for the chapter full of malarial fever dreams. (Although the episode did make me wonder about the reliability of our narrator - being someone who goes to the tropics without thinking to arrange for anti-malaria precautions makes me wonder about his perspicacity.)

Kalpa Imperial by Angelica Gorodischer (translated by Ursula LeGuin) is a book I'd been meaning to read ever since I first heard about it, but managed to forget until a library catalog search on LeGuin brought it back to my attention. Gorodischer is Argentinean with at least 19 novels to her credit, but this is the first to be translated into English. Damn it. I'd really like to read more of her work, so perhaps I'd better get with the Spanish. In any case, there's a good interview with her by Gabriel Mesa at Fantastic Metropolis.

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