Mud City Press

Book Reviews

Mud City Press is, in part, a literary endeavor. Along with our essays on environmental matters, short stories, and novels, we offer reviews of books old and new. Our literary editor is a salty, iconoclastic fellow who sails the Seas of Read with a wary eye for the meaningful and profound. Below are his thoughts on books he feels are worth a look or, perhaps, a revisiting.

Table of Contents

REVIEWS BY DAN ARMSTRONG:
THE DISPOSSESSED
Ursula Le Guin wrote many noteworthy pieces of science fiction, but this one is her masterpiece.
CULTIVATING AN ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE: Essays from a Farmer Philospher
Frederick L. Kirschenmann's recently published collection of essays, CULTIVATING AN ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE, with its clear concern for the part petroleum plays in modern agriculture, offers significant common ground for farmers and carbon-footprint conscious, twenty-first century environmentalists. This alone would make Kirschenmann's book important, but it also does such a thorough job of describing the current state of agriculture, it would be difficult to find a more comprehensive compilation of essays on the subject.
COSMIC INFLUENCES ON AGRICULTURAL PROCESSES
Half wizard and half scientist, Harry MacCormack weaves together sources as diverse as the teachings of Native American elders, the interpretation of the Mayan Calendar, the work of Rudolph Steiner, and data from NASA's fifty years of space exploration and places them into a single context–seeking resonance with these cosmic cycles in a way that both advances personal self-realization and allows insight into the optimization of agricultural processes on planet earth.
THE TRANSITION DOCUMENT: Toward a Biologically Resilient Agriculture
Harry MacCormack has written an important book about the most crucial task of our time–the transition from conventional agriculture to organic farming practices.
EATING FOSSIL FUELS
Dale Allen Pfeiffer adds a disturbing corollary to the thesis of peak oil.
OSWALD'S TALE
Norman Mailer uses a masterful psychological portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald to re-visit Dealey Plaza, November 22, 1963.
GARDEN PLANET
William Kötke takes a clear clean look at rebuilding after the collapse of empire.
REVIEWS OF BOOKS BY DAN ARMSTRONG
REVIEWS BY FRANK KAMINSKI
MERIGAN TALES: Stories from the World of Star's Reach
Frank Kaminski reviews a collection of short stories written by other authors but set in Merigan, a fictional world described in John Michael Greer's post-industrial novel Star's Reach. Greer collected and edited the stories.
BOTANICAL TREASURES: Multi-use Plants for Renewable Resources and a Nature-based Economy
"This lively reference by veteran permaculture designer and eco-forester Joshua Smith looks at a variety remarkable plant species. In the process, it offers great insights and practical advice for those striving to embrace sustainable, nature-based ways of living–and to liberate themselves from the pernicious, ailing technosphere that dictates life for most people in the industrial world. The blessings that these plants could confer on future human and ecological well-being are legion, and Smith covers them comprehensively and engagingly."
HARROWS OF SPRING: A World Made by Hand Novel
Frank Kaminski reviews the fourth and final novel in James Kunstler's epic tale of life in a post-petroleum world.
AFTERBURN: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels
Frank Kaminski reviews Richard Heinberg's new book AFTERBURN, a collection of essays written by the Peak Oil movement's most influential spokesperson.
THE LONG EMERGENCY: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century
Frank Kaminski reviews James Howard Kunstler's peak oil classic, THE LONG EMERGENCY, ten years later.
Frank Kaminski has been a steady contributor to Mud City Press. All of his his non-fiction book reviews are archived here. Kaminski's fiction reviews are archived here.
FILM REVIEWS:
STAND
This documentary, writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, "is presented from an uncommon and intriguing point of view, that of an avid paddleboard athlete and outdoorsman named Norm Hann. In the spring of 2010, Hann traveled 400 kilometers along the B.C. coastline on his stand-up board, tracing a proposed tanker route from Kitimat to Bella Bella."
CHASING ICE
Frank Kaminski reviews Jeff Orlowski's documentary film on the work of photographer James Balog. Balog's still photos and time-lapse photos of melting Arctic ice serve as sure proof of climate change and what it's doing to our planet.
INTO ETERNITY: A Film for the Future
"There's a growing sense that we modern-day humans are morally obligated to protect our descendants from the hazards of our nuclear waste," writes Frank Kaminski to set up his review of this Finnish documentary. "Yet the task of providing this protection may be a fool's errand. The most obvious way of doing it, which is to leave some sort of warning, could prove completely ineffectual and could even backfire."
STATE OF EMERGENCY
"So the other night I was browsing Netflix's instant view collection for a good, recent zombie movie with which to satiate my doomerish craving for mass societal mayhem and collapse," writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, "when I came upon a film called STATE OF EMERGENCY. My advice to you is that if in coming days you find yourself doing the same thing, don't make the same mistake. The film is egregiously clich├ęd, foolishly plotted and wildly unbelievable–in short, it's a reanimated turkey of a zombie movie."
MOTHER: Caring for Seven Billion
"Christophe Fauchere's documentary film MOTHER: CARING FOR SEVEN BILLION," writes reviewer Frank Kaminski, "takes a penetrating look at overpopulation, what fuels it and why the world has become complacent about the issue after making a good start in addressing it during the late 60s. The film dispels some key myths about overpopulation–chief among them the belief that it's long been solved–even if it stops short of admitting the inevitability of a world population crash as the Earth's resources deplete."
ADAM AND I: One Real-life Aspie's Personal Response to the Movie Adam
If you haven't heard of Asperger's syndrome, then you need to read this movie review. If you have heard of Asperger's syndrome, than you also need to read this review. The point being–everyone should read this review!
WHAT A WAY TO GO
T.S. Bennett and Sally Erickson's documentary "What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire" is a grim and emotional view of our world through the lens of peak oil, climate change, and population overshoot.