Current Mood

☆ October 30, 2018

linocut by @plainandtalll

October has been the most delightful summer this year. Apart from a sudden but brief mid-month blizzard, the weather has been the kind of summer weather I fantasize about. Sunny and 75. I spent days sprawled on the deck reading The Monkey Wrench Gang, and I couldn’t stop wondering, as I was reading, if this book would have ever gotten published today if it hadn’t been published in the mid-1970s. First and foremost, it’s appallingly racist. Annoyingly sexist, but appallingly racist (and the racism is so irrelevant, so superfluous, I kept coming out of the story to wonder like, can’t they edit this shit out???). I’m pretty sure a book so blatantly racist against Native Americans would not get published by a major house today, yay for minor progresses.

The part I wonder about is the plot – a group of random vigilante misfits who use chainsaws, corn syrup, and homemade bombs to fight back against the rape of our planet by industry and government. A blurb on the back of the book from The National Observer (a major newspaper at the time) raves, “It’ll make you want to go out and blow up a dam.” Would a book that inspires the general public to go out and blow up dams and strip mines be published today? I kind of don’t think so. Not when the powers that be deploy militarized police and violence and surveillance like that waged against the peaceful protectors at Standing Rock two years ago (not to mention the continued racism Native Americans face in fact if not in fiction) and the local and federal government support for and protection of corporate interests regardless of environmental impact.

I’m trying to think of current popular literature (fiction or memoir) that is openly critical of the anthropocene and I can’t. Can you? If so, leave titles in the comments, please. As for The Monkey Wrench Gang, apart from the racism and the sexism and the constant drinking-and-driving (again, OMG!), the book is immensely readable – the writing style is like Tom Robbins and Wallace Stegner had a love child – and the thesis still holds true: how do we save this planet from ourselves? It’s worth a few sunny afternoons or fireside evenings, should winter ever arrive…

.   .   .

My email inbox is a disaster I don’t know how to fix. My queue goes back to June. Is this the new normal? I know I’m not alone in this, otherwise “inbox zero” wouldn’t be an ubiquitous goal. How did we get here????

.   .   .

You know I love the Longform podcast. Here’s another great episode, which happened to be recorded the day after Dr. Ford’s testimony: Rebecca Traister. So much to love during this interview; this bit gave me hope and drive when I really needed a little hope and drive:

“Events like this past week remind you that you can act and you can care and you can put everything out there and you can still lose. Horribly. Degradingly. Humiliatingly. And it can make you feel crazy with fury that will feel futile. And that’s hard, that’s a hard thing to sign up for… What’s gonna happen next continues to be up to us, and continues to depend on us being willing to do that hard thing and risk heartbreak and defeat and degradation and hopelessness… like, what else is there to do? The vision of the better future is dependent on those of us who can envision it, committing to continuing to work toward it, acknowledging that maybe we’re not going see it in our lifetimes. But you know what? The people we most admire from the past, they didn’t see it in their lifetimes either. But they still did the work that got us to here.”

.   .   .

I was cleaning out my laptop and came across a pile of screenshots I’ve collected over the years. Some good ones:

When you see the entire world as your body, you’ll see everything around you for what it actually is. [@un1fied]

I say bless you when people burp.

When you walk into a supermarket you have the illusion of many choices, but most products are just rearrangements of corn.

Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. [Joyce Meyer]

Archbishop Helder Camara famously said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” [@theathomasin]

TOLINKA // Translation: flapping ears of a coyote; coyote’s long ears flapping [Miwok language]

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen. [Robert Bresson]

A cool form of rebellion: being as chill and generous and present as you can be with everyone you encounter. [@hologramrainbow]

( quotes are attributed wherever possible, you know how it is with screenshots )

.  .  .

The 2019 Charlie Calendar should be ready for you next week! Check back here for all the pics.

.   .   .

Daisy is doing GREAT! I’m happy every day because she’s doing great.



18 Responses to “Current Mood”

  1. Marg
    October 30th, 2018 @ 10:42 am

    I don’t think I will read that book, I see enough of that s–t on television. The world has gone mad it seems and I am almost happy I won’t be in it for a long time (how morose am I ?)

    So happy that Daisy is doing well!

  2. Carolyn Lavender
    October 30th, 2018 @ 11:40 am

    I read Monkey Wrench Gang when I was young and need to re-read because I missed the racism. Sad I know, but we all evolve. But otherwise loved the book, a definite anthem of its time. I also read The Field Guide to Monkey Wrenching. Though I never engaged in any of the tactics, I probably would have if I lived near the forest. I live in Central Phoenix, but I was raised in Washington State. I think you are right, it would never be published today,. The book still sits on my shelf, I will definitely re-read, thanks.

  3. Karyn Newbill
    October 30th, 2018 @ 12:41 pm

    How ironic! My boyfriend read Monkey Wrench Game when in was young, wanted to re-read it and I’m just shaking my head thinking How did this get published?? But it has its moments, haven’t finished it yet.

    October 30th, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

    The screenshots. Priceless. So glad Daisy is doing so well.

  5. Sharon Hood Taylor
    October 30th, 2018 @ 1:51 pm

    I agree that a book like that probably wouldn’t be published today. I, however, am glad it was so that people will not forget. Sanitizing or blatantly lying to forward an agenda is reprehensible. The media has swung so far into liberal land that we rarely hear anything more than propaganda. Just another reason I prefer dogs to people.

  6. Cory B
    October 30th, 2018 @ 5:54 pm

    Tolinka made my day thank you so much!

  7. mlaiuppa
    October 31st, 2018 @ 1:16 am

    Have you read Ecotopia by Ernst Callenbach?

    I’m so happy to hear that Daisy is doing great.

    My Ramses, not so much. He isn’t eating so I’m having a hard time getting his pain meds in him and when he hurts, he doesn’t eat. He also has old dog syndrome. He is spending all of his nights outside now and even if I can coax him into the house, he will stand at the kitchen door and whimper until I let him out. I know where his napping pace is but I do hear him patroling at night. The best I can do is keep him as pain free as I can and try to tempt him with food I’m now cooking for him. Controlling pain and keeping the weight on is the best we can do to delay the inevitable.

  8. Laura Valentine
    October 31st, 2018 @ 8:46 am

    I would recommend reading anything by Terry Tempest Williams. Here’s a link to her books:

  9. Beverly
    October 31st, 2018 @ 6:36 pm

    Everything by Rebecca Solnit
    Eating Stone Ellen Meloy

  10. scotty
    October 31st, 2018 @ 7:05 pm

    the monkey wrench thing is a bit too deep for me but it reminded me that i recently watched the movie ‘chitty chitty bang bang’. then i saw ‘the great race’ and ‘it’s a mad mad mad mad world’ so that was way fun and luckily there was not much political drama.

    my cat tigger was attacked by a javelina last week and she was lucky to survive. my vet bill was approximately 1,000 dollars. it was worth it my cat is family but it made me think omgosh S~ some of your vet bills must be scary.

  11. Angie
    November 1st, 2018 @ 10:58 am

    Apocalyptic Planet by Craig Childs

    Not exactly critical of the Anthopocene but illustrates it beyond beautifully and terrifyingly.

  12. Lisamarie Johnston
    November 4th, 2018 @ 10:38 am

    Hi Shreve,

    I sent you an email awhile back (which if it’s backed up to June you may not have gotten lol!). I’m a virtual assistant and I would LOVE to help you get your inbox to zero, and anything else you need to get off your plate :D

  13. Becky
    November 4th, 2018 @ 8:18 pm

    If you get a chance try Abbey’s other great book ‘Desert Solitaire’, if you haven’t already. Still sexist , less racially offensive, great prose. …..Love child of Wallace Stegner and Tom Robbins, Heh!!!

  14. Ginny F.
    November 5th, 2018 @ 2:03 am

    Hooray for the last sentence of this post!

  15. Jamie
    November 12th, 2018 @ 4:01 pm

    Edward Abby was openly and unapologetically racist.

    Not so much openly critical but

    it is a trilogy of YA novels by Chuck Wendig called Heartland. The first book Under the Emperyan Sky is about the people who farm the corn to make fuel for the flying cities.

    Half science fiction half frightening story of how the Heartland rises up to take back the world. Not as direct as Monkey Wrench Gang.

    Also, if you are into a documentary, DamNation. It is about how dams destroyed native/indigenous culture and how people are fighting to bring it back. It talks about Monkey Wrench gang and Earth First but in a way that is less racist.

  16. kate
    November 28th, 2018 @ 12:03 pm

    “All the Wild That Remains” by David Gessner would be a nice follow-up to that book. He writes specifically about Abbey and Stegner while traveling through the landscape they were writing about, and makes some excellent commentary on the modern state of the west in America, and how we are using it up (and it wasn’t nearly as depressing as I feared it would be, ha).

  17. Margi
    January 11th, 2019 @ 12:22 pm

    Well my heart stuttered when I saw the comments on the monkey wrench gang. Having just finished a book about them I couldn’t imagine what you would be talking about. Then I looked at the spelling of monkey wrench, got out my book and there is the difference. These are contemporary books and the spelling is Monkeewrench Gang written by P.J. Tracy, a mom and daughter duo set in Mn. Gang of misfit nerds saving people one at a time. Your Monkey Wrench is by Edward Albee and yep it’s pretty racist. Long, long time since I read anything of his.

  18. DeeAnne
    February 3rd, 2019 @ 8:22 pm

    I also say bless you to burps, coughs, and other unintentional bodily sounds.

    I feel you on the rearrangement of corn. I am allergic to it.

    And flappy ears are the BEST ears…

    Love!! Miss you!

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