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Judging Book By Its Cover Long Gone

By Wendy Hornsby
Gazettes
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the olden days, children — circa 10 years ago — were all very clear what a book was and what a publisher was. And what a bookstore was.

Books were printed pages sandwiched between tangible covers. The type of cover and the paper inside were indications of the publisher’s opinion of the literary quality of the work.

Hardcovers meant a serious book. A paperback original, not so much, especially compared to a mass-market paperback — reprint of a hardcover. Trade paperbacks were a category of their own, usually the product of small literary publishers or European publishers; they had some cachet. Traditionally, a publisher was housed in a bricks and mortar edifice on the far side of the continent and the editor was a person who was either tweedy or elegant and always knew exactly where to lunch in New York or Boston.

Hardcover books, and sometimes the trade paperbacks, were reviewed in newspapers, were sometimes treated to promotional tours paid for by the publisher, invited to bookstores for signings, or bought by libraries.

And for everyone who couldn’t sell to a publisher, big or small, there was the pay-as-you-go vanity press. These folks got badges from the Rodney Dangerfield Society: “I don’t get no respect,” and a hard time marketing their books beyond friends or family.

Well, kids, times have changed. All the above? Forget about it. Newspapers rarely review books anymore. Instead, reviewers are anyone who wants to post on the web. A long time ago, publishers stopped footing the bill for author tours. Libraries, bless them, are still with us, but you may find as much space there dedicated to computers as to bookshelves, and they will rent you an e-book.

Tell me where in heaven’s name — and what — is your bookstore? Amazon announced this week that it sold nearly twice as many books electronically this year than it did that paper thing Grandma used to decorate her shelves with. A 1:1.8 ratio.

Right now, the real questions are: What is a book? What is a publisher?

Last week, my old friend Gary Phillips was in town, signing an anthology he edited, Orange County Noir, at Apostrophe Books. We talked, as writers always do, about the ever-changing state of publishing.

Years ago, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Gary wrote a wonderful hard-boiled mystery that mainstream publishers deemed too political for that incendiary time. So Gary, in the fine tradition of Upton Sinclair, who couldn’t find a publisher for “The Jungle” because of its rough content, or Howard Fast who couldn’t sell “Spartacus” during the McCarthy Era because he was on the blacklist, published it himself. With friends, he started his own publishing company, West Coast Crime, and published “Violent Spring,” and its sequel, “Perdition” as trade paperbacks.

Gary’s West Coast Crime books did well enough that he was signed to a two-book deal by one of the big New York houses. Most recently, Gary’s four-part novella, “The Underbelly,” was “published” online. The expanded, reedited novella, has been picked up by PM Press and will be published next month as a traditional pages-between-covers edition.

He told me, “Today, after having books published by big, small and in-between publishers, what with Kindle, print-on-demand, iPad, Nook and who knows what all else is coming down the pike, the book business is lot different for the writer and the publishers.” I would add, and for the bookstores and the reader. Many new books are, like Gary’s, hybrids that exist online and on the shelf at the same time. The recent publishing experience of our E.E. – Executive Editor – here at Gazettesland, Harry Saltzgaver, is a good example.

After Harry finished his first book, “Passionately Positive: The Beverly O’Neill Story,” he went looking for a publisher. He told me, “I started out by checking for publishers of similar books, leadership-oriented and AA-oriented.” In the end, he decided that because his story was regional — Long Beach — and the book is slender, that his best option was to work with a print-on-demand publisher. After investigating the options, he chose Outskirts Press.

Harry didn’t need an editor — he’s mine, I vouch for him — but he had help with the design and the artwork. The printing, wholesaling and distribution of the book are taken care of by the publisher. Harry maintains all rights in case a big publisher — or Hollywood — comes calling. Because the book is print-on-demand, it comes out in hardcover and trade paperback, and online, at the same time. And it won’t ever end up on a remainder table. Can’t beat that. The book signing tour? That’s Harry’s responsibility. But as it will probably take place in and around Long Beach, where his target market is, I think he’ll manage just fine.

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Should We Abolish Restaurants?


by Brittany Shoot
Change.org

July 15, 2010

Take it from me: working in a restaurant can slowly drain your will to live. I did it on and off for years and take strange pride in knowing I could always fall back on it. (You'd think after grad school, I'd be done worrying about a fall-back plan, but that's what growing up poor and a recession will do to you.)

I can balance an unusual amount of things on my hands and arm while running up a flight of stairs, and I can cut the foil and open a bottle of wine without even looking. I waited on a few celebrities in a Boston bistro and quit a country club waitressing job by leaving a photograph in the pocket of the French maid/pilgrim uniform apron that depicted my gay best friend, standing 6'2" with bleached blond hair, wearing said uniform. I once put an undocumented dishwasher from the kitchen staff at our sushi joint on a bus headed for another state with a Spanish-language Bible and a sack lunch I'd given him for the road. My time in restaurants, as both an employee and a patron, has been as varied and interesting as it gets.

But would I trade all the enriching experiences for something else? Hard to say. I've worked 14-hour shifts on my feet, nearly unable to walk, and developed persistent hacking coughs from being stationed in the smoking section. I've fallen in kitchens enough times to warrant medical attention and face lifelong back problems as a result of ending up flat on my back in a puddle of cola one too many times. I can even attribute an abusive relationship to working in a cafe, since that's where the scumbag picked me up. I've received at least as many tips in the form of change as I have $20 bills from entirely forgettable people who nevertheless took pity on me. Restaurants ... I love you, I love you not.

The new pamphlet from the always informative and thought-provoking PM Press, Abolish Restaurants: A Worker's Critique of the Food Service Industry, makes more widely available a 60-page illustrated guide (pdf) originally published by prole.info. The pamphlet chronicles the history of restaurants from France in the 1700s to what a cafe staff tolerates today: the same songs, the same tacky decorations, the same customers — who, for instance, become so etched in your mind that to this day, I can remember a couple from ten years ago, where they sat and what they ordered.

Also considered are the relationships between aristocracy and personal chefs — and today, seemingly average middle-class families who nevertheless outsource their food preparation, as well as the food service industry's relationship to capitalism, urban growth and the industrial revolution. Most interesting to me are the sections that explore stress and health: how restaurant work comes in waves, rather than a steady rhythm, and how food service employees are almost always forced to eat only when everyone else has been served.

The entire booklet is enthralling, perhaps especially so if you don't already know what goes on behind the scenes for underpaid, non-unionized restaurant workers in the United States. In the end, a restaurant-free world is hypothesized — though to be fair, we've got a number of low-wage jobs to toss out if restaurants are going to get the boot. Still, if you're still not convinced, I'll leave you with the following quote for consideration:

All the restaurants that have had flowery write-ups in the newspaper, that serve only organic, wheat-free, vegan food, that cultivate a hip atmosphere with suggestive drawings, still have cooks, waiters and dishwashers who are stressed, depressed, bored and looking for something else.

Indeed.

Brittany Shoot is a freelance writer, editor and critic. She's one of the editors of the Feminist Review blog and a frequent contributor to a variety of progressive publications. 



Buy pamphlet now | Download e-Pamphlet now | Back to Prole's page




'When Miners March' in the WV Gazette

When Miners March Updated

By Steve Fesenmaier
The Charleston Gazette
May 26, 2010

In the history of WV, there are few books that can compare to William C. Blizzard’s “When Miners March.” Blizzard for interviewed for local films and for the History Channel’s two-hour epic, “The Real Hillbilly.” Kelley Thompson made a great documentary about him called “Remembering William C. Blizzard” and interviewed him for his great film about the Widen Coal Strike.

Blizzard  presented his book many times during the decade before his death in December 2009. Now, thanks to Wess Harris, who discovered the “lost son of Bill Blizzard,” literally saving him from a lonely retirement in an old mobile home, he published his book in 2006 and has sold thousands of copies of the best book about the WV Mine Wars.

Below is a short press release about a new updated version of the book that is also a great “audio movie” made by MountainWhispers’ Ross Ballard III.


For Immediate Release: Appalachian Community Services is pleased to announce the pre-market release of the PM PRESS edition of WHEN MINERS MARCH. Initial sales will be at the Vandalia Gathering this week-end at the Capitol. In addition to this greatly expanded edition, the restored
one pounder(two pounder) used by coal operators against striking miners living in tents in Matewan in 1920 will be on display. The antique artillery piece no longer is used to kill defenseless women and children but it is not retired. It now sees action blowing apart lies told about our Union history. Stop by and tell stories from your family’s history. Many artifacts from the Battle of Blair Mountain and the state treason trials will also be on display.

For further information contact: Wess Harris, 304, 927-5333 or
 flatridge at wirefire.com

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to William C. Blizzard and Wess Harris's page




Abe in Arms on TeensReadToo


Abe in Arms
by Pegi Deitz Shea
Category:  Contemporary
Age Recommendation:  Grades 9+
Rating:  5 Stars
TeensReadToo.com
By: Joan Stradling

After surviving the wars in Liberia, Abe has been adopted by a doctor and his family in America. Though therapy helped him deal with the loss of his family and helped him accept his new life, there are deeper
memories of his life in Africa threatening to surface. Memories that could destroy him and everything he's come to love.

Though he's a high school track star, Abe has to stop running and face his past in order to move forward with his new life. But will his past catch up with him before he's ready?

Abe in Arms amazed me. In spite of the horrors of child soldiers, war, and struggles to come to terms
with who he is and where he came from, Abe is easy to relate to. I found myself turning the pages without realizing I was even doing it. The story drew me in and kept me mesmerized as I learned more about Abe and his life.

This isn't the type of story I would normally read; I'm much more into fantasy and lighthearted fun.

However, the truth of Abe's experiences in a war-torn country, and the struggles he faces as he deals with memories he'd much rather forget, compelled me to keep reading until I couldn't help falling in love with Abe in Arms.

This eye-opening novel is a must-read! I don't often want to pick up a book and read it again, but I have a feeling I'll be opening Abe in Arms again in the near future.


Buy Book Now | Download e-Book Now | Back to Pegi Deitz Shea's Page




Leo Panitch on the purpose & context of the G20


Leo Victor Panitch (BA Manitoba, MA & PhD London School of Economics) is the Senior Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, and the co-editor of the internationally renowned annual volume, The Socialist Register.

Co-author of the recently released In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives


 

His many books American Empire and the Political Economy of Global Finance, (Palgrave Macmillan 2009); Renewing Socialism: Transforming Democracy, Strategy and Imagination (Merlin 2008); Global Capitalism and American Empire (Merlin, 2004); From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms (Garamond 2003); The End of Parliamentary Socialism (Verso 2001); A Different Kind of State? Popular Power and Democratic Administration (Oxford University Press 1992); Working Class Politics in Crisis (Verso 1986), The Canadian State: Political Economy and Political Power (University of Toronto Press 1977); and Social Democracy and Industrial Militancy (Cambridge University Press 1976). In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for "the wide ranging impact of his published scholarship", including "his theoretical argument about the limitations of corporatism and for his contribution to the development of the theory of the state in capitalist societies." He is now completing a major book with his co-author Sam Gindin on The Making of Global Capitalism. Foreign Policy magazine (May/June 2009) featured his essay on 'Thoroughly Modern Marx' on its front cover.

Buy the book | Buy the eBook | Back to Leo Panitch's Page




Labor's Civil War on Labor Notes

As NUHW Files For Huge Hospital Election, A Member Reflects on Labor's Civil War in California
by David Mallon
6/29/10

[Editor's note: The National Union of Healthcare Workers is filing for an election today in a 43,000-person bargaining unit at the statewide Kaiser Permanente health care system in California, to decertify the Service Employees union (SEIU). Members will vote between SEIU, NUHW, and “no union.”

Kaiser is the largest bargaining unit in SEIU’s United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), the local trusteed by the International union in January 2009. That action triggered the founding of NUHW and ongoing battles between the two unions, including a lawsuit, since then. It is the Kaiser unit, though, that will decide whether NUHW is able to survive, both because of its size and because of its traditions of member involvement.

NUHW interim president Sal Rosselli says the balloting, at hospitals and other health care facilities throughout California, will be the biggest private sector union election in 69 years. The election could happen as soon as 60 days from now. The National Labor Relations Board has also given the go-ahead to most other pending elections NUHW had petitioned for, which SEIU had contested and blocked by filing various legal objections.

A recently published book, Labor’s Civil War in California by Cal Winslow, tells the story of the fight between SEIU and NUHW. It’s reviewed here by an NUHW member.]

On a warm evening this spring I was walking with some colleagues along San Francisco’s Mission Street and happened upon three young yuppie revelers. They asked us if we knew where a strip joint was. We didn’t. The preppiest, clearly an MBA up-and-comer, though dressed only in shorts, a T-shirt, and flipflops—eyeballed the logo on my jacket. “What is NUHW?” he asked. I told him it was my union, and before I could get another word out, my friends and I were entertained with a tirade on the corruption of unions, how they were the bane of free enterprise and should be banned.

We moved on, realizing our boy was far too drunk to be corrigible, and we weren’t looking for a fight. Besides, after what the group of us had been through during the last three years, maybe MBA Boy had a point: unions can be occasions of corruption. This is what Cal Winslow’s remarkable living history, Labor’s Civil War in California, so ably documents. In bold strokes Winslow lays bare the subtle and not so subtle abuses of power the Service Employees union (SEIU) has engaged in of late. It is a portrait in corruption, and one not yet finished.

In many ways Winslow’s book is a painful read. He begins just about where my own experience starts: in 2007, with now-resigned International President Andy Stern leading SEIU’s “all-out assault” on its powerful, 150,000-member California health care workers local, United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW). “The attack,” Winslow writes, “was designed to break the union.”

This was no personality clash between powerful men. The differences between SEIU and UHW run far deeper than union leaders’ egos. It is a fundamental disconnect between competing worldviews. For SEIU, union saturation is the idol to be worshipped. But as membership grew so did the distance from democratic management of the union. The more remote the leadership from the rank and file, the easier it was to come quietly, out of the public eye, to agreements in corporate fashion.

NUHW has an opposite worldview, championing good contracts and involved members, believing health care workers will be drawn to the value and virtue of the union. Workers will recognize the quality of the representation they receive from their peers, democratically elected as stewards and executives of the union.
I’d had a foretaste of the SEIU approach. My bargaining unit within the Kaiser Permanente health system, the Kaiser Psych-Social Chapter, made up entirely of licensed and certified mental health professionals, had for 35 years been part of Local 535.We had bargained many successful contracts on our own, without any help from the International. But in the summer of 2006 SEIU conducted jurisdictional hearings at Stern’s behest and concluded that Local 535 should be dissolved and the various bargaining units farmed out to other locals. It was a preview of future power grabs. Stern’s arrogance was highlighted when my chapter sent him petitions asking that Local 535 not be dissolved and that we remain in that union. He ignored us utterly. There was not even an acknowledgement that we had protested. Local events like this were the grains of corruption that the International processed into bread for the locals to eat.
Winslow lays out in staccato fashion the multitude of plots hatched against UHW in 2007 and 2008: the “implosion” scheme, the deconstruction scheme, the vivisection scheme; the pooled voting scheme, and the “swamp and drown” with litigation scheme, culminating in the “let’s make it look like democracy” scheme that was the 2008 International convention in Puerto Rico.

When the various plots failed, the executive board rammed through at the convention a sneaky bit of legislation buried like pork in a tax bill. This resolution stripped UHW of 65,000 of its long-term care workers. The intent, of course, was to cripple UHW and pave the way for trusteeship.

This was the same gathering that declined to endorse language that would include “rank-and-file” members on bargaining teams. Executive Vice President Dave Regan ridiculed the notion from the dais, saying that guarantees of member involvement were to be found elsewhere in the constitution and bylaws and redundancy was unnecessary. Redundancy in a democratic system is its saving grace, not an encumbrance. Redundancy is the antidote against corruption.

Labor’s Civil War in California could be an essential element in the redundancy protections of democratic unionism. It should be read by every union member. It should be carried in their hip pocket, to be pulled out and referenced every time there is the slightest whiff of corruption rising from the employer or the union hierarchy. If we have learned anything over the past three years, it is that unions can get too big, when they are corrupted by the bosses, to maintain or revive integrity. And Winslow, page after page, documents SEIU’s corporate, top-down, autocratic unionism, resulting in grave injury to the workers who make possible the boss’s commodity: health care.

I was caught up in this, no doubt. The International, on the day of Obama’s inauguration, put in motion the final mechanism that would lead to UHW’s trusteeship. Regan asked me to resign; I refused and was removed as a steward and contract specialist a week later. Within a few months, hundreds of democratically elected stewards were fired by SEIU, having refused its loyalty oaths. Ultimately thousands of the most talented union members became disenfranchised, unable to participate in any aspect of the union’s relationship with the employer, because they strongly want a union in which they can vote for who runs it.

Stern has now retired to “green”-er pastures: just as health care corporations reap extraordinary profits and the health care grandees give themselves huge bonuses, Stern has given himself a tidy little retirement of $219,000-plus a year for life and has insinuated himself onto the board of directors of a NASDAQ corporation.

But our drama is yet unfolding, and many of us in California health care continue to be players. Winslow’s short book, concise and rich at the same time, does us a great service. He takes a page from the work of another great pamphleteer:
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776.

David Mallon is now secretary of NUHW’s Kaiser Psychsocial Chapter. In January his unit voted 717-192 to leave SEIU and join NUHW.

Buy Book Now | Buy e-Book Now | Back to Cal Winslow's Page




Demanding the Impossible in Time Out NY

Marshall offers a lucid history of a movement that defies description.

Peter Marshall’s Demanding the Impossible has been hailed as the authoritative text on the rich and various history of anti-authoritarianism ever since it was first published by HarperCollins in 1992. This handsome new paperback edition from the independent PM Press features a new epilogue by the author, as well as updates and corrections throughout. Anarchism is a subject whose scope, reputation, and penchant for self-contradiction could—and by a certain logic, perhaps should—impede any effort to fully comprehend it. Not so with Marshall’s admirable doorstop; his prose is as clear and flowing as “the river of anarchy” that he chooses for his project’s guiding metaphor—a much more useful (and optimistic) choice than, say, “the labyrinth.”

Parts one through three (“Anarchism in Theory,” “Forerunners of Anarchism” and “Great Libertarians”) run about 200 pages and provide a concise overview of the philosophical and theoretical foundations of anarchist thought. Forms of belief and praxis are traced from the ancient Taoists, Greeks and Christians (among others) to Europe and America in the mid-19th century. Part four, “Classic Anarchist Thinkers,” is about as long as the first three parts together, and could easily stand alone; its 12 chapters are biographical essays on ten major anarchist thinkers from Godwin to Gandhi, plus chapters on American and German communist movements. Parts five, six and seven take back up roughly where part three left off, with five (“Anarchism in Action”) looking at specific movements around the globe, six (“Modern Anarchism”) exploring the New Left of the 1960s to the present, and seven (“The Legacy of Anarchism”) seeking to assess the state of anti-statism today, and to look toward the future.

Though this highly engaging book can certainly be read from start to finish, I expect that its ultimate role in the average reader’s life will be as a reference; not like an encyclopedia but rather more like a favorite author’s collected works or a Bible: a massive repository of wisdom (only some of it truly dubious) and of histories that might be otherwise lost to us.

Buy the book | Buy the eBook | Back to Peter Marshall's Page


Real Cost of Prison Comix on Culture

http://freeculturemag.com
June 3, 2010
by
Stacy Davies


The Real Cost of Prisons Project (RCPP) director Lois Ahrens created the organization in 2000 to shine a spotlight on the more than 2 million people currently incarcerated in the U.S. Ahrens and her team are not interested in relieving convicts of personal responsibility, but instead focus on why so many people in our country are currently locked up—or mass-incarcerated. One of her goals was to create educational materials that could communicate complex ideas in real terms and make them interesting to people who had little use for data sheets and political talk. That led to 2008’s The Real Cost of Prisons Comix, a three-chapter graphic book illustrated by a host of talented artists and writers and filled with easy-to-understand histories of who really pays for the prison system, the “builders of the drug prison boom,” and the cycle of incarceration via government agencies such as multiple foster homes, low-paying jobs and the shame of circumstances. The book has been hailed by a dozen social activists, A People’s History of the United States author Howard Zinn among them. An innovative book, RCPP’s book is a harsh reality check for anyone who thinks every broken law deserves the maximum penalty, and should be a welcome resource for government agencies and drug law reformation advocates alike. The book retails for $12.95. For more information, visit www.realcostofprisons.org.

 

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Vegan Freak on Feminist Review

http://feministreview.blogspot.com
May 31, 2010
by Charlotte Malerich

Wherever one falls on the meat-eater to vegan continuum, you need to make the Torres duo your truth-speaking, profanity-spewing, tough-loving pals. They will move you closer to ethical veganism. For the already-vegan, Bob and Jenna offer the rationale and the moral support to stay that way. For four years, these wacky Ph.D.s have provided social commentary and intellectual critique to and for vegans through their podcast, blog, online forum and publications. In so doing, they've created the Vegan Freak ethos: a celebration of the way vegans stand out in a society that normalizes brutality and exploitation.

Two years ago my younger brother lent me the first version of Vegan Freak, a colloquial and genuinely caring guide to going vegan—covering everything from basic animal rights theory to getting along with non-vegans to where and how to find vegan products. I'd gone vegan as a teenager, emotionally devastated by exposés of modern industrial agriculture. But with the onset of my adulthood, Whole Foods markets were popping up like dandelions, and no less than Peter Singer had given the seal of approval to "humanely" raised animal products. The ideology of mainstream animal advocates looked hopelessly confused, applauding vegan diets and marketing cage-free eggs in the same breath, and my own veganism needed a shot of re-commitment. Vegan Freak offered that. In its pages I found a consistent, insistent morality and a practical guide to living it.

Now, the new edition appears and, as promised, it's been rewritten from the ground up. A thicker book both in page count and ideas, Version 2.0 reflects the clarity and maturity the authors have developed through years of vegan outreach. It still covers surviving holiday dinners and finding vegan alternatives for the leather fetishist in your life. Bad puns, tangential rants, and non sequitur chapter titles preserve the fun of the original. But new sections address recent trends in the vegan world: environmental veganism, veganism-as-body-image complex (or the Skinny Bitch effect), Oprah's vegan cleanse—all are sliced with a scalpel of abolitionist rationale.

For Bob and Jenna, there's no bad reason to go vegan, per se. Just inadequate reasons. Their goals—to help others go and stay vegan, to build a social movement recognizing animal rights—inform all their advice and criticism. Empathy bleeds through every sentence, but the Torreses treat their audience as responsible adults. They are not going to let us off the hook for failing to check if a soup is made with chicken stock or if our running shoes are all man-made materials. They are not content with vegetarians; cheese addicts get their own special page to bookmark and turn to whenever the craving strikes. Really, Bob and Jenna are sure we can make it through the traumatic dinner party with nothing but iceberg lettuce, and when we think about it, we are, too.

To their credit, the authors do not pretend to know what they don't. They frequently refer readers to other sources. The number of times they recommend Googling vegan product X will get tiresome if you read the book in one sitting. But for anyone attempting to make any kind of change, Vegan Freak is applicable and inspirational. The three-week, cold-tofu approach to personal lifestyle change worked for me when I decided to begin exercising regularly. And their thoughts about "impoverished veganism"—veganism that is only about what we consume and how we spend our money—encourages the already-vegan to think beyond personal choices. Most seriously, I credit my present involvement in any kind of activism, vegan-focused or not, to Bob and Jenna's inspiring, grassroots-y influence.


Indulge in a book now | Download e_Book | Learn more about the Torres duo




"Cook Food: A Manualfesto" That Makes You Want to Run to Your Kitchen


www.simplegoodandtasty.com
on Sun, 06/13/2010
by Elizabeth Roca

I’ll admit to feeling some trepidation before opening my review copy of Lisa Jervis’ Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Healthy, Local Eating (PM Press, 2009). Sure, I’d just finished a bowl of kale and potato soup, made by my own hands with greens from my local farmers market. And earlier I’d eaten a snack of raw asparagus spears from the same source. But while I aspire to fresh, healthy, local eating, I’m imperfect. Did a book with the word “manualfesto” in the title have room for my chocolate-eating, Coke Zero-drinking self?

I needn’t have worried. Jervis’s slim, informative volume is, in her words, “a short, quirky education in simple cooking; healthy, light-footprint eating; and the politics of food.”  It is indeed: not an exhaustive overview, but a brief, clear discussion that will make an excellent resource for those new to local eating as well as those familiar with the movement.

Jervis obviously has thought and read a great deal about food, as her discussions of light-footprint eating and the definition of processed food, among other topics, make clear. Her introduction includes a series of potential questions, such as, “I’m on a tight budget. Can I really do this?” and their answers (In a nutshell: yes.). Her tone is direct and friendly. While she acknowledges the potential conflicts between, say, an individual’s concern for the environment, her health issues, and the food selection available to her, she emphasizes the benefits of eating whole foods for both people and the planet, and encourages her readers to do their best.

The book is not all theory by a long shot. It includes suggestions for stocking one’s pantry (for those new to cooking); instructions for how to do everything from de-stemming greens to roasting vegetables to perfect brownness; and a boatload of recipes that range from a simple citrus vinaigrette to a greens pie that could serve a dinner party. Some of Jervis’ cooking tricks were ones I already knew, like adding vegetables to the pasta pot a few minutes before the timer rings. Others I appreciated learning. I’ve been cooking with both tempeh and nutritional yeast for years, but it never occurred to me to combine them; I’m looking forward to trying her recipe for Debbie’s Tempeh. And when I’m tired of my standbys for farmers market fare such as the previously referenced kale and asparagus, I know I’ll dip into this book for Jervis’ recipes for Beans ‘N’ Greens and Spring Vegetable Sauté Over Polenta.

Last is a “Further Resources” section, in which Jervis points readers toward a wide variety of material on food politics, cooking, gardening, and activism. I’m especially pleased by the “Sourcing” section and plan to explore the suggested websites for food co-ops and farmers markets in my area.

So there you have it: a short, quirky, unfussy book that answers a lot of questions about food decisions, our health, and what to eat for dinner tonight. Above all, it inspired me to run to my kitchen, which is what one really wants in a cookbook.

Indulge in a Book | Download e-Book | Learn more about Lisa Jervis



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