From Publishers Weekly
In this memoir turned inside out, veteran writer Kittredge (who won the PEN West Literary Award for his earlier autobiography, Hole in the Sky) jigs in and out of his childhood on an isolated ranch in Oregon and the much older cities of Europe to make a plea for a what he terms "extreme long loop altruism." His geographical movement is quickly outpaced by his tour of literature (from Darwin to Walt Whitman to E.O. Wilson), as he races haphazardly through the development of an increasingly isolated and corrupted human society that disdains compassion, seeks to control the natural world and tries to buy happiness. He argues that we mustDand canDreinvest in the world by, for example, "learning to think of progress as a movement toward sharing, rather than accumulating, and to consider our most central values in terms of our willingness to give." But such ethics seem palpable only in the rare moments when Kittredge slows down enough to describe how they spring from the world around him. He acknowledges that "[t]his book proceeds more like a dance than an argument," but the rush of his often gorgeous images and jumbled summaries yield only flirtatious glances at the power of his ideas. (Dec. 8.--his book proceeds more like a dance than an argument," but the rush of his often gorgeous images and jumbled summaries yield only flirtatious glances at the power of his ideas. (Dec. 8)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Kittredge, a renowned philosopher of the American West, conducts a grand tour of Planet Earth past and present in search of a working definition of generosity on a global scale. His ramblings are both internal, in the form of remembrances of his boyhood on an Oregon ranch and musings on everything from food to love to landscapes, and external, as he chronicles his sojourns in locales as far-flung as Alaska, Peru, and France. The connecting theme is his attunement to the stories that underlie belief systems, especially those that generated the ungenerous systems of contemporary business and government, benefit the few rather than the many, and cause egregious ecological degradation. Provocative, imaginative, eloquent, and profoundly critical, Kittredge considers such landmarks as the birth of language and the invention of writing and the rise of agriculture and the mania for private property. And whether he's appreciating prehistoric cave paintings, a fresco by Fra Angelico, or the poetry of Wordsworth, the chilling facts about the loss of biodiversity and the deprivation suffered by the majority of the world's people are never far from his mind. What's needed, he believes, is a new set of stories that value generosity instead of greed, creativity instead of commodification. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved