Reading the Western Landscape Book Group
Located in Arboretum Library
About This Event
The Arboretum Library’s book group explores the portrayal of western North American landscape in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The group meets mostly the 1st Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the Arboretum Library or out on the Arboretum grounds, weather and sunlight permitting.
The group uses the Shared Inquiry™ method developed by the Great Books Foundation. The chosen book of the month must be read in order to participate.
New members are always welcome!
For more information about the Book Group, please contact, Arboretum Librarian, Susan Eubank, at 626-821-3213 or Susan.Eubank@Arboretum.org. Please RSVP to Susan if you plan to attend.
The Other California: The Great Central Valley In Life and Letters by Gerald W. Haslam, Expanded edition, Reno, Nev.: University of Nevada Press, ©1994.
“In this collection of essays[...], he explores what it means to be from the San Joaquin Valley of California, a massive stew of cultures and people. As an Oildale boy and a product of Okie and Hispanic heritage, his perspective is entrenched in valley dirt and hard work [...] Haslam shows the valley as it is. He speaks with pride about the labor of Okies struggling to emerge from the poverty of the dust bowl, and the Mexican migrants working the fields today. He explores the racism of Taft in the 1970s, and the grief of his mother’s slow decline and death. It’s a moving work. [...] a keeper.”— Beth Cato, Goodreads.com
Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy, New York: Pantheon Books, ©2005.
“[...]The artist and writer’s books have won several literary awards, and time will likely show her to have been one of our finest natural-history writers. Her knowledge of the natural world is deep, and her prose breathtakingly beautiful and often startling. Here she leads us through the history of desert sheep from the Pleistocene onward, their predators, behavior, and the points where their lives intersect with those of humans as evidenced in prehistoric petroglyphs and tribal myths.” — Annie Proulx, The Globe and Mail
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1980.
“[...]Sylvie [...] is looking after [...] two adolescent girls her sister has abandoned in Fingerbone. [It] is one of those towns that seem to be lost between the West and the Middle West. As Miss Robinson puts it, Fingerbone is ‘chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather.’ [...She] works with light, dark, water, heat, cold, textures, sounds and smells. She is [...] taking apart the landscape to remind us that we are surrounded by elements, that we are separated from one another, and from our past and future, by such influences. [...] Though her ambition is tall, she remains down to earth, where the best novels happen.’’— Anatole Broyard, New York Times
The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1974.
“[...]The [book...] is a delightfully comedic take on the serious subject of class warfare. The class conflict in [northern New Mexico...] is the real thing, with the warring parties literally not even speaking the same language. [...]But don’t be put off by its decidedly serious theme. [...It] makes its point using a zany and lovable cast of characters who follow their own logic. [...] All the way through, Nichols uses the land and the hardships it forces to great effect. [...He] has come up with a wild and romping tale told not only with humor but also with great caring and compassion. — Tom Walker, Denver Post
If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester B. Himes, Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1945.
“[...T]here’s a little bit of Bob Jones in all of us. [...] ‘The huge industrial plants flanking the ribbon of road — shipyards, refineries, oil wells, steel mills, construction companies [...] and the snow-capped mountains in the background, like picture post-cards, didn’t mean a thing to me. I didn’t even see them; [...]’ Readers have no choice but to feel Jones’ anger [...;] the way the troubles of the city create a myopia that obscures the beauty of the landscape far more than smog ever could. [...] We grow with him [...] to look at ‘the hustle and bustle of moving busy workers, trucks, plate lifts, yard cranes, electric mules, the blue flashes of arc welders, brighter than the noonday sun’ — only to fall down and get beat in the end. — Sarah Fenske, LA Weekly
Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo New York : W.W. Norton, ©2012.
“A Mvskoke/Creek Indian, she describes her dreams, nightmares and memories of her parents, and her ancestors, [...] “Crazy Brave” might have been titled “Portrait of an Indian Artist as a Young Woman.” [...] Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language. Like [James] Joyce, she knows how to navigate the rough waters of silence, exile and cunning. [...] Poets of every persuasion will surely [also] be riveted by the intensely raw and yet carefully crafted personal poems that Harjo includes here, including one of her first that begins, ‘I release you, my beautiful and terrible/ fear.’”– Jonah Raskin, San Francisco Chronicle