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From the Authors of Girls Are Not Chicks!

The fresh-tasticly updated Girls Are Not Chicks by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak is out now at and Be the first in your neighborhood to color all the pages.

We are delighted to join forces with Reach and Teach/PM Press to bring you this new version of a classic! Twenty-seven pages of feminist fun! This is a coloring book you will never outgrow. Girls Are Not Chicks is a subversive and playful way to examine how pervasive gender stereotypes are in every aspect of our lives. This book helps to deconstruct the homogeneity of gender expression in children's media by showing diverse pictures that reinforce positive gender roles for girls.

Color the Rapunzel for a new society. She now has power tools, a roll of duct tape, a Tina Turner album, and a bus pass! Paint outside the lines with Miss Muffet as she tells that spider off and considers a career as an arachnologist!

When a girl's voice is fostered to its brimming potential, the sound is not a peep, nothing akin to the sound of a fuzzy baby chick. The encouraged voice of a girl is resounding and loud, glowing with perfect protest and intellect. Girls are not chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes.

Oh, yes, and keep coloring,
Jacinta and Julie

PM Press in London

That's right, we now have a quasi-official London office, given the recent trans-continental move of editor Andrea Gibbons. It's her third in as many years and has been a bit rough, but she's finally feeling that life is now more or less sorted, though if you've extra kitchen wares you'd like to offload, she could probably help you out. And of course, if you're interested in working with us, you can get in touch with her at Just remember that apart from a pretty full time job of PM editing and website updating and etc, she's also starting a dissertation on transnational capital and neoliberalism. She will do her best not to be flaky.

We are excited to announce our first official appearance though, which will be the 2009 London Anarchist Book Fair.

When? Saturday, October 24th from 10 am to 7 pm.

Where? Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS.

We will have two tables full of PM's finest's the first time you've ever seen anything like it if you haven't seen us in the States, and we promise an array of intellectual joys attractively packaged. (And we're not just talking about the folks working at the booth!)  

We are also proud to present author Gabriel Kuhn, who will be speaking in Room EB4-45 from 5 to 6 pm.

Gustav Landauer, Erich Mühsam, and the German Revolution of 1918-19

Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) and Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) arguably remain Germany's most influential anarchists. Both were key figures in the Bavarian Council Republic of 1919, the most ambitious attempt by left-wing radicals to create an egalitarian and socialist society on the ashes of the German Empire.

English language material, in particular primary texts by Landauer, Mühsam, and fellow radicals of the era, are scarce. PM Press has now announced a series of publications providing sources that have long remained unavailable. An extensive Gustav Landauer reader will be published in March 2010. An Erich Mühsam reader and a reader on radical currents during the German Revolution will follow in subsequent years.

The volumes' editor and translator Gabriel Kuhn will give an introduction to Gustav Landauer and Erich Mühsam, discuss German anarchism, and outline the PM Press projects.

We're sad to say that as you read above, this gorgeous and important collection of Landauer's writings is not yet available. We're as disappointed as you are, but we will have several other books and pamphlets available that Gabriel has written or been involved with, and you can read all about them here, and we will be holding several launch events here in London, as Stockholm really isn't that far away.

So hope to see you at the Bookfair, at upcoming events, or just around!

Outspoken Authors

In PM’s Outspoken Authors series, today’s edgiest fiction writers showcase their most provocative and politically challenging stories. Outspoken Authors books, designed to fit your pocket and stretch your mind, are edited by award-winning SF author Terry Bisson, and include in-depth interviews, short stories and novella, essays, bios, and bibliographies.  

Terry Bisson

Left Left Behind

The Left Left Behind
By Terry Bisson
ISBN: 978-1-60486-086-3
Pub Date October 2009
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 128 pages
Size: 7.5 by 5
Subjects: Fiction, Religion

Hugo and Nebula award-winner Terry Bisson is best known for his short stories, which range from the southern sweetness of “Bears Discover Fire” to the alienated aliens of “They’re Made Out of Meat.” He is also a 1960’s New Left vet with a history of activism and an intact (if battered) radical ideology.

The Left Behind novels (about the so-called “Rapture” in which all the born-agains ascend straight to heaven) are among the bestselling Christian books in the US, describing in lurid detail the adventures of those “left behind” to battle the Anti-Christ. Put Bisson and the Born-Agains together, and what do you get? The Left Left Behind--a sardonic, merciless, tasteless, take-no-prisoners satire of the entire apocalyptic enterprise that spares no one--predatory preachers, goth lingerie, Pacifica radio, Indian casinos, gangsta rap, and even “art cars” at Burning Man.
Plus: "Special Relativity," a one-act drama that answers the question: When Albert Einstein, Paul Robeson, J. Edgar Hoover are raised from the dead at an anti-Bush rally, which one wears the dress? As with all Outspoken Author books, there is a deep interview and autobiography—at length, in-depth, no-holds-barred and all-bets-off—an extended tour though the mind and work, the history and politics of our Outspoken Author. Surprises are promised.

About the Author:

Terry Bisson, who was for many years a Kentuckian living in New York City, is now a New Yorker living in California. In addition to his Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction, he has written bios of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Nat Turner. He is also the host of a popular San Francisco reading series (SFinSF) and the Editor of PM’s new Outspoken Authors pocketbook series.


"Bisson is a national treasure!"
--John Crowley, author of Little Big

"Bisson can charm your toes off!”
--The Washington Post

"Bisson's prose is a wonder of seemingly effortless control and precision; he is one of science fiction's most promising short story practitioners, proving that in the genre, the short story remains a powerful, viable and evocative form."
--Reed Business Information, Inc.

Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Terry Bisson's Author Page

Kim Stanley Robinson

The Lucky Strike
By Kim Stanley Robinson
ISBN: 978-1-60486-085-6
Pub Date October 2009
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 128 pages
Size: 7.5 by 5
Subjects: Fiction


Combining dazzling speculation with a profoundly humanist vision, Kim Stanley Robinson is known as not only the most literary but also the most progressive (read “radical”) of today’s top rank SF authors. His bestselling Mars Trilogy tells the epic story of the future colonization of the red planet, and the revolution that inevitably follows. The Years of Rice and Salt is based on a devastatingly simple idea: If the medieval plague had wiped out all of Europe, what would our world look like today? His latest novel, Galileo’s Dream, is a stunning combination of historical drama and far-flung space opera, in which the ten dimensions of the universe itself are rewoven to ensnare history’s most notorious torturers.

The Lucky Strike, the classic and controversial story Robinson has chosen for PM’s new Outspoken Authors series, begins on a lonely Pacific island, where a crew of untested men are about to take off in an untried aircraft with a deadly payload that will change our world forever. Until something goes wonderfully wrong …

Plus: A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions, in which Robinson dramatically deconstructs “alternate history” to explore what might have been if things had gone differently over Hiroshima that day. As with all Outspoken Author books, there is a deep interview and autobiography—at length, in-depth, no-holds-barred, and all-bets-off—an extended tour though the mind and work, the history and politics of our Outspoken Author. Surprises are promised.


"The foremost writer of literary utopias."

“The best nature writer in the U.S. today also happens to write science fiction.”
--The Ends of the Earth 

“It’s no coincidence that one of our most visionary science fiction writers is also a profoundly good nature writer.” 
--Los Angeles Times

“If I had to choose one writer whose work will set the standard for science fiction in the future, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson.” --New York Times

About the Author:

Born in 1952, a Californian through and through, Kim Stanley Robinson grew up in Orange County, surfed his way through UC San Diego (writing his doctoral thesis on Philip K. Dick), and now lives in Davis with two kids and a beautiful scientist wife. He spends several weeks a year above 11,500 feet in the high Sierras. Not surprisingly, he’s a good friend of Gary Snyder.

Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Kim Stanley Robinson's Author Page

Gary Phillips

The UnderbellyThe Underbelly
By Gary Phillips
Published: June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60486-206-5
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 128
Dimensions: 7.5 by 5
Subjects: Fiction


The explosion of wealth and development in downtown L.A. is a thing of wonder. But regardless of how big and shiny our buildings get, we should not forget the ones this wealth and development has overlooked and pushed out. This is the context for Phillips’ novella The Underbelly, as a semi-homeless Vietnam vet named Magrady searches for a wheelchair-bound friend gone missing from Skid Row – a friend who might be working a dangerous scheme against major players. Magrady’s journey is a solo sortie where the flashback-prone protagonist must deal with the impact of gentrification; take-no-prisoners community organizers; an unflinching cop from his past in Vietnam; an elderly sexpot out for his bones; a lusted-after magical skull; chronic-lovin’ knuckleheads; and the perils of chili cheese fries at midnight. Combining action, humor and a street level gritty POV, Underbelly is illustrated with photos and drawings.

Plus: a rollicking interview wherein Phillips riffs on Ghetto Lit, politics, noir and the proletariat, the good negroes and bad knee-grows of pop culture, Redd Foxx and Lord Buckley, and wrestles with the future of books in the age of want.

About the Author:

Phillips was born in Los Angeles in 1955, the son of a mechanic and a librarian. Early on he discovered the writers Arthur Conan Doyle, Ellery Queen, Ross Macdonald, Richard Wright, Rod Serling, comic book artist Jack Kirby, Zora Neale Hurston, Donald Goines, Joyce Carol Oates, and pulp writers Kenneth Robeson ( creator of Doc Savage) Walter Gibson (creator of the Shadow). He attended San Francisco State University from 1972 to 1973 and earned a bachelor of arts degree from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1978. He has worked as a union organizer, political campaign coordinator, radio talk show host and teacher. He has written op-ed pieces for the L.A. Times Magazine, San Francisco Examiner, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Miami Herald and other newspapers. He has served as co-director of the MultiCultural Collaborative. He is an impressive author with a number of titles and series including, Violent Spring, and the rest of the Monk private detective series, High Hand, The Perpetrators, Bangers, The Jook, The Underbelly, and he is currently the co-editor of the Switchblade imprint with PM Press which recently released Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail!: Stories of Crime, Love and Rebellion, which Gary not only edited but is a contributing author.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Gary Phillip's Author Page

Eleanor Arnason

Mammoths of the Great Plains
By Eleanor Arnason
ISBN: 978-1-60486-075-7
Published May 2010
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 144 Pages
Size: 7.5 by 5
Subjects: Science Fiction


When President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore the West, he told them to look especially for mammoths. Jefferson had seen bones and tusks of the great beasts in Virginia, and he suspected--he hoped!--that they might still roam the Great Plains. In Eleanor Arnason’s imaginative alternate history, they do: shaggy herds thunder over the grasslands, living symbols of the oncoming struggle between the Native peoples and the European invaders. And in an unforgettable saga that soars from the badlands of the Dakotas to the icy wastes of Siberia, from the Russian Revolution to the AIM protests of the 1960s, Arnason tells of a modern woman’s struggle to use the weapons of DNA science to fulfill the ancient promises of her Lakota heritage.

PLUS: “Writing During World War Three,” a politically un-correct take on multiculturalism from an SF point-of-view; and an Outspoken Interview that takes you straight into the heart and mind of one of today’s edgiest and most uncompromising speculative authors.

About the Author:

Ever since her first story was published in the revolutionary New Worlds in 1972, Eleanor Arnason has been acknowledged as the heir to the feminist legacy of Russ and Le Guin. The first winner of the prestigious Tiptree Award, she has been short listed for both the Nebula and the Hugo.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Eleanor Arnason's Author Page

Michael Moorcock

Modem Times 2.0
Author: Michael Moorcock
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-308-6
Published: January 2011
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 128
Size: 7.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Fiction


As the editor of London’s revolutionary New Worlds magazine in the swinging sixties, Michael Moorcock has been credited with virtually inventing modern science fiction: publishing such figures as Norman Spinrad, Samuel R. Delany, Brian Aldiss and J.G. Ballard.

Moorcock’s own literary accomplishments include his classic Mother London, a romp through urban history conducted by psychic outsiders; his comic Pyat quartet, in which a Jewish antisemite examines the roots of the Nazi Holocaust; Behold the Man, the tale of a time tourist who fills in for Christ on the cross; and of course the eternal hero Elric, swordswinger, hellbringer and bestseller.
And now Moorcock’s most audacious creation, Jerry Cornelius--assassin, rock star, chronospy and maybe-Messiah--is back in Modem Times 2.0, a time twisting odyssey that connects 60s London with post-Obama America, with stops in Palm Springs and Guantanamo. Modem Times 2.0 is Moorcock at his most outrageously readable--a masterful mix of erudition and subversion.

Plus: a nonfiction romp in the spirit of Swift and Orwell, Fields of Folly; and an Outspoken Interview with literature’s authentic Lord of Misrule.

About the Author:

Voted by the London Times one of the best fifty writers since 1945, Michael Moorcock was shortlisted with Salman Rushdie and Bruce Chatwynd for the Whitbread Prize (Mother London) and won the Guardian Fiction Prize for The Condition of Muzak. He has won almost all major SF and Fantasy awards and several lifetime achievement awards including the ‘Howie’, the Prix Utopiales and the Stoker.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Michael Moorcock's Author Page

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Wild Girls
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-403-8
Published May 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5
Length: 112 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction


Nebula winner The Wild Girls, newly revised and presented here in book form for the first time, tells of two captive “dirt children” in a society of sword and silk, whose determination to enter “that possible even when unattainable space in which there is room for justice” leads to a violent and loving end.
Plus: Le Guin’s scandalous and scorching Harper’s essay, "Staying Awake While We Read," (also collected here for the first time) which demolishes the pretensions of corporate publishing and the basic assumptions of capitalism as well. And, of course, our Outspoken Interview which promises to reveal the hidden dimensions of America’s best-known SF author. And delivers. 


“Idiosyncratic and convincing, Le Guin’s characters have a long afterlife.” —Publishers Weekly

“Her worlds are haunting psychological visions molded with firm artistry.” —The Library Journal

About the Author:

Ursula K. Le Guin is the one modern science fiction author who truly needs no introduction. In the half century since The Left Hand of Darkness, her works have changed not only the face but the tone and the agenda of science fiction, introducing themes of gender, race, socialism and anarchism, all the while thrilling readers with trips to strange (and strangely familiar) new worlds. She is our exemplar of what fantastic literature can and should be about.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Usuala Le Guin's Author Page

Cory Doctorow

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
Author: Cory Doctorow
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-404-5
Published: November 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5
Page count: 144 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction

Doctorow’s activism and artistry are both on display in this Outspoken Author edition. The crown jewel is his novella, The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow the high velocity adventures of a trans-human teenager in a Disney-dominated Tomorrow, battling wireheads and wumpuses (and having fun doing it!) until he meets the “meat girl” of his dreams, and is forced to choose between immortality and sex.
Plus a live transcription of Cory’s historic address to the 2010 World SF Convention, “Creativity vs. Copyright,” dramatically presenting his controversial case for open-source in both information and art.
Also included is an international Outspoken Interview (skyped from England, Canada, and the U.S.) in which Doctorow reveals the surprising sources of his genius.

About the Author:

Cory Doctorow burst on the SF scene in 2000 like a rocket, inspiring awe in readers (and envy in other writers) with his bestselling novels and stories, which he insisted on giving away via Creative Commons. Meanwhile, as coeditor of the wildly popular Boing Boing, he became the radical new voice of the Web, boldly arguing for internet freedom from corporate control.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Cory Doctorow's Author Page

Rudy Rucker

Surfing the Gnarl
Author: Rudy Rucker
Publisher: PM Press - Outspoken Author Series
ISBN: 978-1-60486-309-3
Published: January 2012
Format: PDF, ePUB, Mobi
Size: 7.5 by 5
Page count: 128 Pages
Subjects: Fiction-Science Fiction
The original “Mad Professor” of Cyberpunk, Rudy Rucker (along with fellow outlaws William Gibson and Bruce Sterling) transformed modern science fiction, tethering the “gnarly” speculations of quantum physics to the noir sensibilities of a skeptical and disenchanted generation. In acclaimed novels like Wetware and The Hacker and the Ant he mapped a neotopian future that belongs not to sober scientists but to drug-addled, sex-crazed youth. And won legions of fans doing it.
In his outrageous new Surfing the Gnarl, Dr. Rucker infiltrates fundamentalist Virginia to witness the apocalyptic clash between Bible-thumpers and Saucer Demons at a country club barbecue; undresses in orbit to explore the future of foreplay in freefall (“Rapture in Space”); and (best of all!) dons the robe of a Transreal Lifestyle Adviser with How-to Tips on how you can manipulate the Fourth Dimension to master everyday tasks like finding an apartment, dispatching a tiresome lover, organizing closets and iPods, and remaking Reality.
You’ll never be the same. Is that good or bad? Your call.

About the Author:

A direct descendant of philosopher G.W. Hegel, Rudy Rucker is a mathematician, science author (The Fourth Dimension), on-line editor (Flurb), award-winning SF writer (two Philip K. Dick Awards), and confirmed computer geek. A native of Kentucky, he lives in Silicon Valley with his wife, a Hungarian princess.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Rudy Rucker's Author Page

Nalo Hopkinson

Report from Planet Midnight
Author: Nalo Hopkinson
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-60486-497-7
Published July 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5
Page count: 128 Pages
Subjects: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Gender

Nalo Hopkinson has been busily (and wonderfully) “subverting the genre” since her first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, won a Locus Award for SF and Fantasy in 1999. Since then she has acquired a prestigious World Fantasy Award, a legion of adventurous and aware fans, a reputation for intellect seasoned with humor, and a place of honor in the short list of SF writers who are tearing down the walls of category and transporting readers to previously unimagined planets and realms.

Never one to hold her tongue, Hopkinson takes on sexism and racism in publishing (“Report from Planet Midnight”) in a historic and controversial presentation to her colleagues and fans.

“Message in a Bottle,” a radical new twist on the time travel tale that demolishes the sentimental myth of childhood innocence; and “Shift,” a tempestuous erotic adventure in which Caliban gets the girl. Or does he?

And Featuring: our Outspoken Interview, an intimate one-on-one that delivers a wealth of insight, outrage, irreverence, and top-secret Caribbean spells.


About the Author:

Nalo Hopkinson, born in Jamaica and now living in Toronto, is a superstar of modern fantasy. Her award winning novels include Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), Midnight Robber (2000), The Salt Roads (2003), and The New Moons Arms (2007). Her short story collection, Skin Folk (2001), was the winner of the World Fantasy Award and the Sunburst Award. She has edited and co-edited a number of fantasy anthologies, and taught at the Clarion workshops and other venues. She is a founding member and currently on the advisory committee of the Carl Brandon Society, which exists to further the conversation on race and ethnicity in SF and fantasy.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Nalo Hopkinson's Author Page

Ken MacLeod

The Human Front
Author: Ken MacLeod
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-60486-395-6
Published April 2013
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5.5
Page count: 128 Pages
Subjects: Fiction/Sci-Fi

Winner of a Prometheus and Sidewise Award, and largely unavailable this side of The Pond, The Human Front follows the adventures of a young Scottish guerrilla, drawn into low-intensity sectarian war in a high-intensity future, when the arrival of an alien intruder (complete with saucer) calls for new tactics and strange alliances.

MacLeod’s unique vision is developed even further in a new commentary written especially for this edition, and in his delightful personal account of a Hebridean youth’s first encounter with the post-capitalist world. Also featured is our Outspoken Interview showcasing the author’s deep erudition and skeptical, mordant wit.

About the Author:

Ken MacLeod is one of the brightest and most progressive of Britain’s new “Hard SF” stars who are navigating exciting new futures, to the delight of a growing legion of fans around the world. His award-winning works combine cutting-edge scientific speculation, socialist and anarchist themes, and a deep humanistic vision. Described by fans and detractors alike as a “techno-utopian socialist,” MacLeod delights in engaging recognizable characters in far-flung adventures across the boundaries of space and time.

Born in Scotland’s legendary Outer Isles, MacLeod graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in zoology and has worked as a computer programmer and written a masters thesis on biomechanics. A regular in British SF and progressive circles, he is married and has two children. He lives in South Queensferry, Scotland.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Ken MacLeod's Author Page


John Shirley

New Taboos
Author: John Shirley
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-60486-761-9
Published: April 2013
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5.5
Page count: 128 Pages
Subjects: Fiction, Science Fiction

Mixing outlaw humor, SF adventure, and cutting social criticism, Shirley draws upon his entire arsenal of narrative and commentary. The title essay, "New Taboos" is his prescription for a radical re-visioning of America. A new short story, "State of Imprisonment," is a horrifying and hilarious look at the privatization of the prison industry. The 1% get their comeuppance in "Where the Market's Hottest." His TEDx address (delivered in Brussels, 2011) presents his proudly contrarian view of the next forty years.

Also featured is our Outspoken Interview showcasing the author's transgressive sensibility, deep humanity, and mordant wit.

About the Author:

John Shirley is one of the original "Dread Lords" of Cyberpunk who brought a new noir sensibility to SF and Fantasy in the nineties. Still associated with his literary compatriots Gibson, Rucker, and Sterling, Shirley has expanded his work into comics, film, TV, and music, bringing his legions of fans along with him.

John Shirley is the author of numerous books and many, many short stories. His novels include Bleak History, Crawlers, Demons, In Darkness Waiting, and seminal cyberpunk works City Come A-Walkin' as well as the A Song Called Youth trilogy of Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona. His collections include the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild award-winning Black Butterflies, Living Shadows: Stories New & Pre-owned, and In Extremis: The Most Extreme Short Stories of John Shirley. He also writes for screen (The Crow) and television. As a musician Shirley has fronted his own bands and written lyrics for Blue Öyster Cult and others.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | John Shirley's Author Page

Karen Joy Fowler

The Science of Herself
Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-60486-825-8
Published: 10/01/2013
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction/Women's Studies

Well known in the mainstream for her bestseller, The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler offers a short collection of perceptive, entertaining, thought-provoking, and often hilarious speculative stories with a progressive and feminist edge.

An all-new story set in the days of Darwin, "The Science of Herself" is an astonishing hybrid of SF and historical fiction: the almost-true story of England's first female paleontologist and her struggles to bring modern science to the Victorian establishment. "The Further Adventures of the Invisible Man" is a hilarious faux-YA tale about bullying, revenge, baseball, and shoplifting. "The Motherhood Statement," a nonfiction analysis of the current state of gender equality in publishing and politics, shows off Fowler's radicalism and impatience with both Tea Party idiocy and liberal pieties.

Also featured is our Outspoken Interview, showcasing the author's mordant wit, deep erudition, and radical spirit.

About the Author:

Well known in the mainstream for her New York Times bestseller, The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler is a well-respected and considerable force in SF and Fantasy as well. She is a two-time winner of the Nebula and World Fantasy awards, and cofounder of the Tiptree Award, given for works dealing with the politics of sex and gender.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Karen Joy Fowler's Author Page

Norman Spinrad

Raising Hell
Author: Norman Spinrad
Publisher: PM Press/ Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-60486-810-4
Published: 07/14
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 x 5.5
Page Count: 128
Subjects: Science Fiction

An all-new story designed to take a poke at both Christian fundamentalists and corporate CEOs, “Raising Hell“ is a rousing account of the fight to improve working conditions in Hell, with the help of such deceased immortals as Jimmy Hoffa, John L. Lewis, and César Chávez. “The Abnormal New Normal,“ which casts a cold and razor-sharp eye on current trends in popular culture, shows how they reflect the domination of the one percent, and suggests a radical fix.

Also featured is our Outspoken Interview, the usual mix of intimate revelation, celebrity gossip, insight, opinion, and outright lies.

About the Author:

One of the original gang who created science fiction’s controversial “New Wave“ in the 1960s, New Yorker Norman Spinrad is SF’s original outlaw, known for his often hilarious and always fearless attacks on the sacred cows of both the Right and the Left. Alternately censored and celebrated for his novels (including The Iron Dream and Bug Jack Barron), he has also written for the original Star Trek and twice served as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Norman Spinrad's Author Page

Paul Krassner

Patty Hearst & The Twinkie Murders
Author: Paul Krassner
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-629630-38-0
Published: 10/01/2014
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5.5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Fiction/History-US

Patty Hearst & The Twinkie Murders is darkly satiric take on two of the most famous cases of our era: the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst and the shocking assassination of San Francisco gay leader Harvey Milk. As a reporter for the Berkeley Barb, Paul Krassner was ringside at the spectacular California trials. Krassner's deadpan, hilarious style captures the nightmare reality behind the absurdities of the courtroom circus.

Using his infamous satiric pen and investigative chops, Krassner gets to the truth behind the events: the role of the police and FBI, the real deal with Patty and the SLA, and what really happened in Patty’s infamous closet.

Plus: A merciless exposé of the "Taliban" wing of the gay movement and their scandalous attacks on alt-rock star Michelle Shocked.

Also featured is our Outspoken Interview, an irreverent and fascinating romp through the secret history of America's radical underground. Names will be named.

About the Author:

Creator of the Realist, the legendary underground magazine that many credit as the beginning of the radical "new journalism" of the 1960s, Paul Krassner is an immortal, immoral, revered, and reviled icon of American humor. Wielding satire as a weapon, he began the assault on middle America known today as the "counterculture" and is still a hero to radicals and a menace to the establishment. He now lives near Palm Springs disguised as an old man.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Paul Krassner's Author Page

Marge Piercy

My Life, My Body
Author: Marge Piercy
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-105-9
Published: 08/01/2015
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Women's Studies/Literature-Collection

In a candid and intimate new collection of essays, poems, memoirs, reviews, rants, and railerries, Piercy discusses her own development as a working-class feminist, the highs and lows of TV culture, the ego-dances of a writer's life, the homeless and the housewife, Allen Ginsberg and Marilyn Monroe, feminist utopias (and why she doesn't live in one), why fiction isn't physics; and of course, fame, sex, and money, not necessarily in that order. The short essays, poems, and personal memoirs intermingle like shards of glass that shine, reflect—and cut. Always personal yet always political, Piercy's work is drawn from a deep well of feminist and political activism.

Also featured is our Outspoken Interview, in which the author lays out her personal rules for living on Cape Cod, caring for cats, and making marriage work.

About the Author:

Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen novels, including the national bestsellers Gone to Soldiers, Braided Lives, and Woman on the Edge of Time, seventeen volumes of poetry, and a critically acclaimed memoir, Sleeping with Cats. Born in center-city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she has been a key player in many of the major progressive political battles of our time.

Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Marge Piercy's Author Page

Carter Scholz

Author: Carter Scholz
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-118-9
Published: 10/2015
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Science Fiction

In the novella “Gypsy,” a few visionary scientists, chosen and nurtured by an eccentric billionaire undertake humankind’s most expansive adventure—a generations-long voyage to a distant planet. “The Nine Billion Names of God” uses a classic SF text to deconstruct literary deconstruction itself, with hilarious results.

“Imprecations” is an unforgiving examination of the primary lies in popular culture. Also featured is our Outspoken Interview, in which a postmodern Renaissance man reveals his sources, frustrations, forbidden delights, and demonic designs.

Table of Contents:
The Nine Billion Names of God
Bad Pennies
Outspoken Interview
Author Biography

About the Author:

Born in New York, educated on the East Coast, Scholz set foot in Berkeley in the 1960s—and never looked back. Considered a “writer’s writer” he is perhaps the best-kept secret in SF, with a prophetic voice that points to the future and rarely looks back.

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Joe R. Lansdale

Miracles Ain’t What They Used to Be
Author: Joe R. Lansdale
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-152-3
Published: 06/01/2016
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Fiction/Collection

Arguably (and who doesn’t like to argue?) the world’s bestselling cult author, Joe R. Lansdale is celebrated across several continents for his dark humor, his grimly gleeful horror, and his outlaw politics. Welcome to Texas. With hits like Bubba Ho-Tep and The Drive-In the Lansdale secret was always endangered, and the spectacular new Hap and Leonard Sundance TV series is busily blowing whatever cover Joe had left.

Backwoods noir some call it; others call it redneck surrealism. Joe’s signature style is on display here in all its grit, grime, and glory, beginning with two (maybe three) previously unpublished Hap and Leonard tales revealing the roots of their unlikely partnership.

A hatful and a half of Joe’s notorious Texas Observer pieces that helped catapult him from obscurity into controversy; and “Miracles Ain’t What They Used to Be,” Lansdale’s passionately personal take on the eternal tussles between God and Man, Texas and America, racism and reason—and religion and common sense.

And Featuring: Our Outspoken Interview, in which piney woods dialect, Bible thumpery, martial arts, crime classics and Hollywood protocols are finally awarded the attention they deserve. Or don’t.

About the Author:

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Edgar Award–winning Hap and Leonard mystery series (Mucho Mojo, Two Bear Mambo) and the New York Times Notable Book The Bottoms. More than two hundred of his stories have appeared in such outlets as Tales from the Crypt and Pulphouse, and his work has been adapted for The Twilight Zone and Masters of Horror. His work has been collected in eighteen short story collections, and he has edited or coedited over a dozen anthologies.

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Elizabeth Hand

Author: Elizabeth Hand
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-234-6
Published: 01/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Fiction

The title story, “Fire.” written especially for this volume, is a harrowing postapocalyptic adventure in a world threatened by global conflagration. Based on Hand’s real-life experience as a participant in a governmental climate change think tank, it follows a ragtag cadre of scientists and artists racing to save both civilization and themselves from fast-moving global fires.

“The Woman Men Couldn’t See” is an expansion of Hand’s acclaimed critical assessment of author Alice Sheldon, who wrote award-winning SF as “James Tiptree, Jr.” in order to conceal identity from both the SF community and her CIA overlords. Another nonfiction piece, “Beyond Belief,” recounts her difficult passage from alienated teen to serious artist.

Also included are “Kronia,” a poignant time-travel romance, and “The Saffron Gatherers,” two of Hand’s favorite and less familiar stories. Plus: a bibliography and our candid and illuminating Outspoken Interview with one of today’s most inventive authors.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Hand flunked out of college a couple of years after seeing Patti Smith perform and became involved in the nascent punk scenes in DC and New York. From 1979 to 1986 she worked at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. She was eventually readmitted to university to study cultural anthropology and received her BA. She is the author of many novels, including Winterlong, Waking the Moon, Glimmering, Mortal Love, Illyria, and Radiant Days, as well as three collections of stories, including the recent Saffron and Brimstone. Her fiction has received the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Tiptree, and International Horror Guild Awards, and her novels have been chosen as notable books by both the New York Times and the Washington Post. She has also been awarded a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship. A regular contributor to the Washington Post Book World and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, she lives with her family on the coast of Maine.

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John Crowley

Author: John Crowley
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-392-3
Published: 06/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128 pages
Subjects: Fiction

John Crowley's all-new essay “Totalitopia” is a wry how-to guide for building utopias out of the leftovers of modern science fiction. “This Is Our Town,” written especially for this volume, is a warm, witty, and wonderfully moving story about angels, uncles, and natural disasters based on a parochial school third-grade reader. One of Crowley’s hard-to-find masterpieces, “Gone” is a Kafkaesque science fiction adventure about an alien invasion that includes door-to-door leafleting and yard work. Perhaps the most entertaining of Crowley's “Easy Chair” columns in Harper's, “Everything That Rises” explores the fractal interface between Russian spiritualism and quantum singularities—with a nod to both Columbus and Flannery O'Connor. “And Go Like This” creeps in from Datlow's Year's Best, the Wild Turkey of horror anthologies.

Plus: There's a bibliography, an author bio, and of course our Outspoken Interview, the usual cage fight between candor and common sense.

About the Author:

John Crowley was born in 1942, grew up in Greenwich Village, Vermont, Kentucky, and northern Indiana, graduated from Indiana University, and after moving to New York worked writing documentary films. He began publishing fiction 1975, starting with three science fiction novels (The Deep, Beasts, and Engine Summer). His later novels are less categorizable. He won the Award for Literature of the American Academy of Letters in 1992 and the World Fantasy Award three times. His novels include Little, Big; the four-volume Ægypt Cycle, and most recently, Four Freedoms. His documentary films include studies of the 1939 World’s Fair, the Tiananmen Square incident, and the Pearl Harbor attack. Since 1993 he has taught creative writing at Yale University.

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Samuel R. Delany

The Atheist in the Attic
Author: Samuel R. Delany
Publisher: PM Press / Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-440-1
Published: 02/2018
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Fiction

The title novella, “The Atheist in the Attic,” appearing here in book form for the first time, is a suspenseful and vivid historical narrative, recreating the top-secret meeting between the mathematical genius Leibniz and the philosopher Spinoza caught between the horrors of the cannibalistic Dutch Rampjaar and the brilliant “big bang” of the Enlightenment.

Plus: equal parts history, confession, complaint, gossip, and personal triumph, Delany's “Racism and Science Fiction” combines scholarly research and personal experience in the unique true story of the first major African American author in the genre. And featuring: a bibliography, an author biography, and our candid, uncompromising, and customary Outspoken Interview.

About the Author:

Born into a distinguished Harlem family, Samuel R. Delany was a success at nineteen, changing the tone, the content, and the very shape of modern science fiction with his acclaimed novels and stories that bridged the apparent gap between science and fantasy to explore gay sexuality, racial and class consciousness, and the limits of imagination and memory. His vast body of work includes memoir, comics, space adventure, mainstream novels, homosexual erotica, and literary criticism of a high order. Until his recent retirement he was a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University.

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Michael Blumlein

Thoreau’s Microscope
Author: Michael Blumlein
Publisher: PM Press/ Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-62963-516-3
Published: 06/01/2018
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5x5
Page count: 128
Subjects: Science Fiction

The politics and terrors of biotech, human engineering, and brain science are given startling fictional form in a selection of short stories with Michael Blumlein’s signature mix of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and wicked humor.

The title piece, “Thoreau’s Microscope,” is a stunning mix of hypothesis and history, in which the author inhabits Thoreau’s last days to explore the politics of impersonal science and personal liberation—a journey as illuminating as it is disturbing.

On a lighter note, “Fidelity” coolly deconstructs adultery with the help of an exuberant tumor, a guinea pig, and a swimsuit. “Y(ou)r Q(ua)ntifi(e)d S(el)f” will reset your Fitbit and your personal goals as well. “Paul and Me” is a legendary love story writ extra-large; and in “Know How, Can Do” a female Frankenstein brings romance to life in the cold light of the lab.

About the Author:

Michael Blumlein is a medical doctor and a respected SF writer whose novels and stories have introduced new levels of both horror and wonder into the fiction of scientific speculation. His work as a cutting-edge medical researcher and internist at San Francisco’s UCSF Medical Center informs his acclaimed stories and novels as they explore what it means to be truly—if only temporarily—human.

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Politics, Art and Activism in Oaxaca

By Sasha Watson
Publishers Weekly

Peter Kuper left the United States in 2006 in search of some peace and quiet. Instead, the award-winning cartoonist found a strike, a government crackdown, and a political storm in Oaxaca. True to the form that led him to co-found the political graphics magazine World War 3, Kuper soon started drawing and writing about what he was seeing around him. The result is Diario de Oaxaca, A Sketchbook of Two Years in Mexico. With text in both English and Spanish, the book is a chronicle in sketches, writing, and photographs, of Kuper’s time in Oaxaca and what he saw during the political turmoil of those two years.

In 2006, the Oaxaca teacher’s strike, which had been taking place annually without incident for years, was the subject of an unexpected attack by riot police sent in by the new governor, Ulises Ruíz Ortíz. Over the months that followed, the situation worsened, resulting in a number of deaths, including those of several teachers and of an American journalist, and the arrival of federal troops in Oaxaca. Combining sharp commentary with sketches that are sometimes impressionistic and sometimes detailed, Kuper leads readers through his life in Oaxaca, showing us what he saw and how he saw it. Diario is a rare and intimate personal account of what it’s like to live through political turmoil. Kuper discussed the experiences and the making of the book with PW Comics Week from his home in New York City.

PWCW: Can you tell me a little about what made you decide to leave the U.S.?

Peter Kuper: Well, the first reason was that we had a nine-year-old daughter, and we wanted her to have a second language. Around ten or eleven the ability to pick up language starts to reduce. Then also, when I was ten my father had a sabbatical, and we spent a year in Israel, and that had a tremendous impact on my sense of the world. Certainly part of it was being burnt out on America under the Bush administration, too. It was shortly after the 2004 elections and my work was very concentrated on political commentary. I was foaming at the mouth all the time, and just thought it would be a good idea to take a break.

PWCW: What made you choose Oaxaca as your destination?

PK: It was a crapshoot, really. We’d thought of going to Spain, but it was clear that there we'd be scrambling like we do in New York, living in an apartment in a city. We’d visited Oaxaca a few times and we were enchanted with it as a place. It turned out to be a really good choice. There’s an incredible artistic community there, with lots of museums and a lot of interesting culture—and then the political explosion was an added bonus.

PWCW: One of the most interesting things about the book is this idea of how news is spread and received. You talk about how difficult it can be to find out what's happening in a distant country, and even around the corner. How closely were you following U.S. reports of the unrest in Oaxaca and how did these reports compare to what you were seeing every day?

PK: A lot of times the news wasn’t accurate to my experience, and that was one of the things that started to drive me to write. Lots of friends were writing and saying, ‘Get the hell out of there, it’s dangerous!’ but based on our experience, it was okay, even if the reports were somewhat accurate. That’s why I started sending out emails describing what I was seeing, and then later started writing essays.

PWCW: What were the discrepancies between the news and what you were seeing?

PK: I mean, if the newspapers show a photograph of someone throwing a Molotov cocktail onto a bus, it just looks like the place is exploding but that’s not the whole picture. That image is sexier for the newspaper. The threshold of interest is really limited with newspapers, especially now, they are not gonna spend a lot of money reporting on what is essentially a dot on the map for their readers. So the reporter would be in Mexico City which is an eight-hour drive from Oaxaca, which meant that they weren’t seeing things first-hand, so a lot of the reports were really government handouts. If the reporter was there, they were really only there for the most extreme moment of the action. Living there, I was capturing a bigger picture.

PWCW: One of the events you depict in the book is Governor Ulises’s appearance at a radish festival. What's that all about?

PK: The festival is an annual event that’s gone on for years. People carve radishes and then have three or four hours for the judges to look at them before they go bad. That year there was also a counter radish festival where people were carving federal troops and helicopters out of radishes. That one got shut down after a while. Seeing people use art in response to political situations was really inspiring. I’d been so burned out in the U.S., asking myself, ‘Does art matter? What is its place and importance?’ In Oaxaca, art is so much part of the dialogue and the response. It’s how people heal themselves and announce their resistance. It really seemed that it had value to people in a very real way and it gave me a better feeling about art as an action that has some value.

PWCW: Another art form you talk about in the book is graffiti. How was that used during the protests?

PK: There’s just a tremendous amount of art on the walls in Oaxaca. During the strike and in its aftermath, there were posters, stencils, images and effigies of Ulises Ortiz. The reaction was really vibrant and very visible on the walls, and that energy helped [organize] the strikers. It was very heartening to see that.

PWCW: Did seeing all that activism in response to the crackdown on the teacher’s strike inspire any feelings about activism in the U.S.?

PK: Yes, I mean we had one guaranteed stolen election and probably two in the United States, and the idea that people weren't encamped in Washington when people camped out for months at a time on cobblestone streets in Oaxaca… We've had horrendous events go on that certainly merited taking to the streets, and if we’d had the kind of general public responsiveness there was in Oaxaca, then there would have been more notice taken. Of course there were protests against the Iraq war but somehow we didn't take it to the next step that made it a problem for the government so they had to respond. I think because the economy was so functional, a lot of people felt anaesthetized to the importance of taking action. But seeing what was happening in Oaxaca really gave me a renewed faith in the impact of art.

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5th Inning Reviewed on Simmons Fields

Off-Season Pastimes: The 5th Inning

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." (Rogers Hornsby)

Still 148 days until the 2010 season begins. What can the avid college baseball fan do in the off-season to stave off the dreaded baseball-deprivation blues?

Read a Baseball Book: The 5th Inning, by E. Ethelbert Miller

If you're one of those people who groans every time someone says "Life is like Baseball", you will not want to read this book. In fact, you probably should stop reading this book review. While I sometimes doubt if life really is like baseball, I faithfully hold the truth to be self-evident that Baseball is like Life. E. Ethelbert Miller apparently agrees:
I fell in love with baseball and lost my virginity to a glove. Gloves with names like Bobby Shantz and Elroy Face. How ironic to always be given a relief pitcher's glove.
Miller talks about his love of baseball in his youth, but in the heart of the order of this memoir he connects the experience of a man turning 50 to the 5th inning of a baseball game.

This book is a riff on middle age, marriage, fatherhood and failure. In baseball the fifth inning can represent a complete game. The structure of this book consists of balls and strikes.
. . .
When a person becomes 50 or approaches the years that follow, his story is
almost over.
Over and over, as he talks about his life, his loves, his failures, he weaves baseball in and out of the narrative.

These short chapters are the equivalent to balls and strikes. If I write too many of them you know I'm having trouble trying to find the plate. That's how one's life can begin (or end). Several years of college and you still don't know what to do. Thirty years working in the same place and you wonder - why?
Quotes like that one remind me of my own thoughts on how we as fans - who so often expect perfection out of our heroes - would benefit by remembering that life and baseball are alike. We follow Mizzou Baseball alums who keep battling on and on through the years of ups and downs in the minor leagues, and we scratch our heads and wonder why they don't see the futility of it all. The answer is that they do see the futility, but are still struggling to write the next chapter in their lives, just as we all so often continue to repeat the same routines day after day, season after season. Before we can begin to think about walking away from it all, before we veer off from the familiar rhythms that have defined our lives, we have to reconcile the totally inexplicable fact that we have devoted so many innings, so many games, so many seasons to something that will probably not carry us to the ninth inning, let alone lead to the glory we imagined when we were young.

As a man in my early 50's, Miller's memoir spoke to me like it might not to a young guy in his twenties. While most of his specific experiences were very unlike mine (Miller is an African American, a self-described "literary activist and poet"), his words forced me to look at my own life in the middle innings, as the writing of it apparently did for him.

Is this how the memoir pokes the writer in his side? A catcher throws a ball back to the pitcher - a bit harder - just to get his attention. He wants the pitcher to concentrate. I need to breathe and write more . . .

We could all stand to live a little more intentionally and stop coasting by on our talent or on our past success. I recommend this short book (167 pages of 3-up-and-3-down quick chapters) for anyone who suspects they need to get their head back in the game.

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Tearing Down the Walls

Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women
By Cassandra Shaylor
Left Turn Magazine

In the summer of 1974, women incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York held seven guards hostage in protest of the brutal treatment of activist prisoner Carol Crooks, who had successfully sued the prison for locking people in segregation without a hearing. State troopers and guards from men’s prisons were called in to suppress the rebellion. In the end, 25 women were injured and 24 were transferred without a hearing to the state institution for the “criminally insane.” Despite the attention in both mainstream and activist circles to the uprising led by men at Attica prison in the same state three years earlier, the August Rebellion at Bedford Hills went virtually unnoticed.

Victoria Law’s new book seeks to correct this lacking in historical memory, and to highlight contemporary examples of resistance to state repression that originate in women’s prisons. Based on eight years of research—much of it drawn from interviews and correspondence with activists inside—Resistance Behind Bars is grounded in the lived experience of people personally engaged in these struggles.

Like some other books about incarcerated women, Law’s is organized by issue—barriers to healthcare, sexual assault, separation from children, etc. But rather than present only accounts of the myriad harms intrinsic to prisons, Law highlights everyday rebellions against those abuses. When she first launched her project, Law repeatedly heard the claim that “women don’t organize.” Her book offers an important corrective to dominant narratives, upending gendered understandings of who engages in acts of rebellion and what constitutes resistance.

This book would have benefited from a more complex examination of gender—one that acknowledges the presence of transgender and gender non-conforming people in prisons, and moves away from a binary understanding of women as “different” from men. That said, it makes a significant contribution to challenging static notions of women’s responses to imprisonment, and further opens the door to continued examination of all incarcerated people’s resistance strategies. Reading the book raises many critical questions.

As activists both inside and outside, what lessons can we learn from tactics deployed by people in arguably the most restrictive and repressive of circumstances? What is possible and what is effective in a given historical moment? What can we learn from modes of resistance deployed by previous generations? What are the differences between, for example, using the body as a tool of resistance by organizing a hunger strike, and employing a system-generated response like filing a grievance or a lawsuit?

Furthermore, what do these tactics teach us about the nature of prisons themselves? For instance, if sexual violence is necessarily constituent of the prison—that is, if the prison relies on and promotes rape in order to perpetuate itself as an institution—rape in prison cannot be eliminated until we eliminate the prison altogether. Then, how do we organize against instances of sexual assault in the moment, while acknowledging and addressing the need to abolish the institution?

Towards abolition

Reading this book also highlights gaps in contemporary organizing strategies. While there are accounts of work stoppages in the 1970s, there is little information about organized labor in women’s prisons since. This absence raises questions about how well we are communicating with those struggling around labor in prisons. It also pushes us to think about how workers organizing on the outside can support and incorporate the concerns and strategies of labor issues and struggles on the inside.

A broader question is always present: How can people outside of prison walls not only learn from and tell the stories of radical acts of resistance but, more importantly, organize ourselves in solidarity with people inside to build a strong, informed, and collective movement against the prison industrial complex?

The acts of rebellion highlighted in Resistance Behind Bars push those of us who are abolitionists and anti-prison activists to challenge our collective understanding of the roles incarcerated women play in movement-building against the violence inherent to the prison system, and towards next steps for building solidarity across prison walls to abolish the system altogether.

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Interview with John Curl


John Curl, author of For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America (PM Press, 2009) interviewed by Gabriel Kuhn. (September 2009)

Internationally, US society is often associated with rampant individualism. Your book portrays an impressive number of cooperative and communal projects throughout the country's history. Can you sum up the most important chapters of this legacy?

The collectivity of North American Indians remains our deepest legacy, followed by the cooperative settlements and structures of the early colonists, and of every wave of immigrants to America from around the world. Communalism played an important role in the movement for social equity that arose in response to the industrial revolution, and also in the Abolitionist movement that ended slavery. Worker cooperatives were a key element in early labor unions, and grew into a national movement in the later 19th century. Between 1865 and 1888, there were at least 529 worker cooperatives in the US, in almost every region coast to coast. The Knights of Labor, the greatest American worker organization of the time, organized a chain of approximately 200 worker cooperatives that they planned to form the structure of an alternative economic system they called the Cooperative Commonwealth, based on workplace democracy, where they would abolish what they called "wage slavery." The Knights at their peak approached a million members, making them the largest worker organization in the world. At the same time, small farmers were organizing an infrastructure of cooperatives through the Grange and later the Farmers Alliance. An historian called the Farmers Alliance cooperatives "the most ambitious counter-institutions ever undertaken by an American protest movement." The Farmers Alliance had over 5 million members, including one and a quarter million African Americans. The Knights and the Farmers Alliance worked together. Decades later in response to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Self-Help movement organized mutual aid and barter outside the failed financial system, involving over half a million people in different parts of the country. In the 1960s and '70s a new generation reinvented collectivity, communalism, and worker cooperatives and called them the counterculture, which was a spontaneous grassroots movement involving millions of people. The current revival forms the latest and hopefully the most important chapter.

How do these experiments relate to US individualism? Are we looking at two distinct historical trajectories here, or is there less of a contradiction than many might think?

When you join a cooperative or an intentional community you don't surrender your individuality. On the contrary, cooperatives by their democratic nature empower individuals and strengthen their ability to pursue individual creativity. American small farmers have always been highly individualistic, yet in many parts of the US typically also belong to several cooperatives. Worker cooperative members are their own boss, and the economic independence this brings is the staff of individualism. Cooperatives are based on people power, which empowers each member individually. As the old Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) anthem said, "the union makes us strong." Capitalist propaganda tries to link that economic system with the concepts of freedom, democracy, and individualism, but in truth capitalism is about funnelling wealth and power into the hands of a small elite, and disempowering everyone else. The official historians of capitalism glorify the entrepreneur-the businessman-and claim that the greatest community benefits derive from this. But the wage system is actually geared to making the community weak, and thereby less individualistic. The personification of the myth of the rugged American individual is the ruthless "robber baron" of the 19th century, who amasses his wealth from the blood of factory workers and later poses as a philanthropist dispensing gifts and largesse to charities and cultural institutions. In contrast, the historical trajectory of the American working people is paved with cooperation and collectivity, which for generations formed the material base for movements opposing the domination of capital and increasing freedom and democracy. It is through this activist opposition and their cooperative institutions that working peoples' individualism expressed itself.

How do you distinguish cooperation from communalism? From a radical perspective, is one more important than the other?

Cooperatives are integrally intertwined in their larger communities. Communalism is the form of cooperation that includes residence, and therefore often involves an element of separation. Cooperatives are everywhere in civil society, which has its base in free association. Cooperatives are democratic associations organized to manage particular jobs or functions. Their ubiquity gives cooperatives greater power than intentional communities in terms of their potential as levers for broad radical social change. It is primarily worker cooperatives and related social enterprises that are at the core of this radical potential. They challenge the wage system, since cooperative members own and manage their businesses. People are integral to the cooperative, and not just labor that can be replaced by a machine or a different employee.

Another factor is that cooperatives are easier to join than intentional communities, since to become a member a person does not have to change residence, habits or behavior  beyond the limited parameters of the cooperative. Mass society today is of course based on the single-family unit. If mass society were tribal, then intentional communities would be indistinguishable from the dominant social fabric. A cooperative on the other hand can be almost any association, business, organization providing goods or services, a music group, a neighborhood watch, a preschool play group, or any of millions of other possibilities. Many cooperatives have a low public profile, which can be seen as a weakness, but which also gives them power in that they are often flying entirely below the radar and wearing a cloak of invisibility.

Communalism and cooperation both offer microcosmic utopian visions that demonstrate the viability of the concepts. They embody critiques of society. Yet as a strategy of social transformation, communalism has demonstrated more fatal flaws than cooperatives. Back in the 1820s, 1840s, and 1960s, communal movements tried to transform society by attempting to organize networks of intentional cooperative communities. The idea that mass society could be transformed by everybody dropping out of it and into the new world quickly revealed its limitations. Only a comparatively small number ever joined an intentional community, while in some periods almost the entire population of a region belonged to cooperatives.

Have the cooperative and communal traditions in the US ever posed a serious threat to the dominant political order and to capitalism? Were they met with strong political repression?

That happened several times.

The first time was in the late 19th century, and it changed the course of American history. The counter-institutions of the Knights of Labor and Farmers Alliance, which I already mentioned, were destroyed by the reaction of the old system. The Knights cooperatives were put out of business during the nationwide crackdown in the wake of the organization's involvement in the May Day national strike for the 8-hour day in 1886 that ended in the Haymarket police riot. The destruction of the Knights and their cooperatives marked the triumph of industrial capitalism in the US. As an historian wrote, "American industrial relations and labor politics are exceptional because in 1886 and 1887 employers won the class struggle." The Farmers Alliance cooperatives were destroyed economically a few years later by a combination of bankers and financiers, and that pushed the FA into organizing the Populist Party, which staged the most serious assault on the two-party electoral system in American history. The Populist Party was violently attacked by racists and vigilantes in many parts of the South.

In the early 20th century the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) took up the cause to create a new cooperative economic system, but instead of organizing worker cooperatives like the fallen Knights, they planned to take over the existing industries through industrial unionism. The IWW was destroyed by police repression focused around their opposition to World War I.

The Self-Help Movement of the 1930s was destroyed by the government but not by government repression. It was undercut by New Deal work programs like the WPA, which offered a cash income to almost anybody at a time when the money system was stopped, while the co-ops offered only barter. The Roosevelt administration starved the Self-Help co-ops to death by refusing to qualify work in them as WPA work, and refusing any financial help to co-ops which sold the products they produced rather than barter them or make them for self use. The New Deal helped numerous rural cooperatives of different types, but few urban co-ops, and drew the line at worker cooperatives, which threatened the wage system.

The Peoples Food Systems of San Francisco and Minneapolis of the 1970s were victims of the last chapter of government repression-or I should say probably victims, because government guilt has never been definitively proven. In those cities and in others around the country, food-related cooperatives and collectives came together to try to set up an alternative system. The Food Systems could be seen as the culmination of the spontaneous movement known as the '60s counterculture. As they became larger and more successful, they met the fate of many progressive groups in that period: they were disrupted and destabilized by individuals and small groups within their system. Although it has never been proven that the Food Systems were victims of government agents such as the Nixon administration's Cointelpro which destroyed numerous progressive groups, many participants, particularly in San Francisco, were convinced that was the case.

What is the situation today? Your book mentions how many cooperatives have entered the mainstream. Do radical cooperative and communal potentials remain?

The world is entering into a visionary period. People all over the planet are creatively reinvisioning the world economic system. The potential of radical cooperative and communal movements is greater now than at any time in history. Because the world economic system needs cooperatives to fill in the gaps, the movement is starting to become mainstream in some places; but that also embodies a new threat to the movement's integrity and ability to fulfil its mission. Economic collapse, climate change, and population explosion have jolted many people into the realization that the current economic system is not geared to handle the upcoming crises of the 21st century. Unless we change, by all predictions the near future will include vast unemployment and marginalization, huge population movements, and devastation of numerous local economies. Unless we reinvent the world system, we will suffer catastrophes of a global magnitude. That has already been recognized by the United Nations, which in 2002 called on governments to form an alliance with the cooperative movement to grow the worker cooperative sector in every country to a magnitude where it can become a key mechanism in solving the worldwide problems of unemployment and poverty. The cooperative movement (which includes communalism) needs to cautiously welcome that alliance with government. Welcome because government is a counterweight to the private and corporate sector's ability to generate resources, which the movement sorely needs. Most of the world's wealth and resources, which embody the ability to shape the world, have been privatized. The movement needs to accept access to resources from government cautiously, without being dominated by it. The movement must retain its independence to really affect social change, because government will not do it. Government support involves paternalism, and paternalism strangles and destroys mutual aid. The movement must deal with governments from a position of strength. Fortunately there is another counterbalance in civil society: nonprofits, NGOs, community groups, spiritually-based organizations, and similar institutions. There already is a growing alliance between the cooperative movement and many of these organizations, and they are increasingly including support of social enterprises in their missions.  The International Labour Organization (ILO), representing the labor movements of the world, has joined the coalition. While much of the labor movement in the last century was hostile to worker cooperatives because they blur the line between employer and employee, now the ILO is promoting worker cooperatives, because labor unions as we have known them have been marginalized. The overarching goal of the labor movement has always been to improve the lives of the community of working people, but that has been limited by a narrow focus on increasing their members' salaries and benefits. By supporting worker cooperatives and other social enterprises, labor unions are returning to their original mission of struggling for broad social equity. As unions increasingly support the larger working population, the community should in turn increasingly support labor struggles, as they did in the 1930s. Worker cooperatives are strong in small industries and businesses, but organizing larger firms is out of reach of the meagre resources that the movement can gather, so the union movement is integral to the larger struggle for workplace democracy.

What is the future role of cooperative and communal projects in radical politics? What are the prospects?

Radical politics is not defined by elections or demonstrations. It involves innumerable everyday interactions. Governments and elections make up only a small fraction of politics, which are part of all human group activities. Politics are the processes by which groups make decisions. The dominant political form of today's society is hierarchy: authoritarian command structures of power elites. Cooperation, collectivity, and communalism in contrast are based on free association of equals in unhierarchical democratic structures. They embody the opposition to the dominant paradigm, and mirror the ends they're working toward. The internal structures and methods of all truly radical organizations need to reflect their ends if they ever really want to reach them. The idea that radical organizations must take on hierarchical structures in order to effectively oppose the hierarchy of society, is a sham and a delusion. Any apparent success of such an organization is hollow and sets the real movement back. The counter-institutions built through radical politics always have to reflect the goals of social justice and equity. Cooperatives, collectives, and intentional communities do this by extending democracy to the economic sphere. They are a conscience to radical politics, and help to keep it focused on its long-term mission instead of getting sidetracked by short-term apparent gains. Radical groups organized according to the structures of collective democracy are cooperatives themselves. Radical politics by its very nature is a cooperative project.

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Peter Kuper's Diario de Oaxaca

By Peggy Roalf
DART: Design Arts Online

When Peter Kuper, the cartoonist widely known for his Spy Vs. Spy strip in MAD magazine, told me that he was moving his family to Oaxaca City, Mexico three years ago, I asked if he would be interested in posting stories for DART. Without hesitation, he agreed, and his first article appeared on November 10, 2006. The last story, Oaxaca Journal V. 14, was published in June 2008.


Cover and inside pages from Peter Kuper’s Diario de Oaxaca.

Next week, Peter will celebrate the publication of Diario de Oaxaca: A Sketchbook Journal of Two Years in Mexico. Here’s a report on the chat we had by email this week about his experience.

Peggy Roalf: Why did you move to Mexico?

Peter Kuper: The main reason was for our daughter, Emily. We wanted her to get a second language and be in a place with fewer iPods and cell phones. She was nine when we made the move in 2006, a time when her young mind was able to easily pick up a new language. My parents had done something similar when I was ten and we lived in Israel for a year. It had a huge impact on my world view. Being a stranger in a strange land (I got beat up a lot) and having to decipher the complex symbols of a new language, helped me grow up to be a freelance cartoonist!

PR: As a political junkie, your timing couldn’t have been better, or worse as it happened - all of which is covered in Diario De Oaxaca. After the teachers’ strike and subsequent violence ebbed, did you have to decompress before getting into the natural features and the archeological and historic wonders of Mexico - and something like a daily routine?

PK: Of course we had no idea we’d be stumbling into an exploding political situation when we picked Oaxaca. To recap: a few weeks before we arrived, Oaxaca’s new governor attacked a small teachers’ strike causing a coalition of  other unions to join them in solidarity. It expanded into an international event when an American journalist was killed and federal troops were brought in by the thousands. I thought our time in Mexico would be a break from the barrage of depressing news we’d been getting since George W. Bush took office. Yet after months of living in Oaxaca, in the center of a political maelstrom, I was reminded of how important news events are to inspiring my art. In the aftermath I was in fact less motivated to draw. After sketching soldiers and tanks juxtaposed in front of ancient architecture, normal life seemed visually trivial by comparison. I eventually rediscovered the million details of daily life well worth drawing, but it took me months after the strike ended to appreciate this and get rolling.

PR: Diario includes a couple of wordless strips, including one about going for a walk that is almost a mini-epic. Is this something new for you? And are you planning anything as a stand alone publication along this vein?

PK: Wordless comics are an area of great interest to me since they transcend language barriers and are the roots of the form. Cave paintings, the Mayan codices and Egyptian hieroglyphics are a few examples of human’s earliest visual storytelling. I’ve done a couple of long form wordless graphic novels (The System and Sticks and Stones), and there are many examples of longer works by other artists in this form like Lynd Ward, Franz Masereel and Eric Drooker. The last issue of World War 3 lllustrated (which I co-edited) is all wordless comics; this was a result of my time in Mexico, and wanting to produce an issue that could be read everywhere, without translation. In fact I’m not even writing this answer–it is a wordless mind transmission.

PR: Would you consider doing a graphic novel about how the people of Teotihuacan vanished, which you mention in Diario?

PK: I’m developing a new fictional graphic novel based on my experiences in Mexico and I’m weaving history into the story so I can go beyond constraints of reality. But I’d consider do any number of things that would allow me to sit at my drawing table in New York and mentally travel in Mexico!

PR: You speak of the Mexican world of simultaneity on page 180, in which people celebrate their ancient heritage as they go about their daily routine. Have you brought any of that lifestyle back home?

PK: I’ve tried to bring aspects of that into my drawings. I’m trying to keep up with my daily sketchbook drawing as I did in Mexico, only here in New York, I’m mixing subway riders with floating skyscrapers, poor people on cell phones next to rich people on Blackberries. Still, somehow it doesn’t feel the same; we’re missing the truly ancient.

PR: After living there for so long, was drifting into the tourist mode hard to do?

PK: Not really. I still feel like a tourist here in New York after 32 years. What was difficult was going from feeling like part of the town during the strike, (since so few foreigners stuck around during the troubles) to feeling like another gringo when the strike ended and the town was flooded with tourists again.

PR: The drawings toward the end of the book are more highly finished than your early sketches. Did you create these after returning to New York? Or did your sketchbook style evolve through daily practice?

PK: It was an evolution. I did everything but the last few pages of the book while I was in Mexico and as often as possible drew on the spot. By drawing in my sketchbook so much I learned how to turn “mistakes” into part of the page. Some of the pages took weeks to complete since I’d hop to a new page, then return to the older drawings, and continue building them over time. I tried to avoid the tendency to get precious with any single page, but occasionally I’d have to set my coffee cup on the art and let it leave a stain - as a reminder that this was still a sketchbook.

PR: Please tell DART readers about the hearts on the end pages, which are also scattered throughout the book.

PK: The owner of the house we rented collected painted tin hearts, created by artisans for various holidays. They were stuck in nooks around the house so they became one more thing for me to draw. When I looked at my sketches later the hearts seemed emblematic of Mexico - hand-made, colorful, sometimes garish, religious overtones bent to form something personal that felt ancient, symbolic and beautiful - so I used them as endpapers in my book.

PR: Like a Mexican version of mezuzahs?

PK: They are called “Milagros,” which translates into charms; some of them reference Jesus by surrounding the heart with a crown of thorns and He was jewish so….

PR: What are your plans for this year’s Day of the Dead, a festival that features so vividly in the book?

PK: Since both my parents died during the last year, I will have a full schedule of celebrating their lives and welcoming their spirits back for a visit over a mezcal, which is an extremely potent liquor made from the agave cactus.

PR: How would you characterize the effects of spending two years away from your New York life?

PK: It’s hard for me to determine given how many other forces have been at work since our return. The economic crash, my parents dying, the changing political climate and my own artistic metamorphosis, which is still taking place, has made it difficult to separate the impact of our time in Mexico from the seismic world shift that everyone is experiencing. It has been over a year since we returned and I am only just feeling my feet settling back on the city pavement.

PR: What advice would you give to others who want to re-root for an extended period of time?

PK: Get as much language under your belt as possible to help you get your footing. Through the internet find out as much as you can about the place and make connections with locals and other travelers before you go. Also, bring plenty of quality sketchbooks!

PR: I didn’t see a book design credit - did I overlook something?

PK: I did the design, with a bit of help on typography from a Mexican designer. The Mexican publisher let me have all the bells and whistles I wanted and I ran with it. The U.S. publisher came on the scene later. They were both so hands off  that I ended up dealing with every aspect of the book from finding the printer to negotiating the shipping!

PR: Well congratulations again, Peter, and I’d like to tell DART readers what a remarkable book this is - certainly one that I’ll treasure.

Editor’s note: Peter Kuper will be doing a series of events around Diario de Oaxaca including an exhibition of original art that will open at MOCCA (The Musum of Comic and Cartoon Art) next Thursday, September 17th at 7:00 pm, with a talk and book signing. For complete details, click here.

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Prison Comix

By Jim Ridgeway
Unsilent Generation

With more and more older people going to prison there is a growing demand for educational materials to keep their minds alive and well amid the deadening atmosphere of the American correctional system—created in large part by government and supervised and informed by the judiciary. Not to mention the thousands upon thousands of young and middle-aged people whose “rehabilitation” has been cut short by the cruel sentencing laws. There are all sorts of projects afoot in this area, but one is of special interest. It is called the Real Cost of Prisons, and is run by Lois Ahrens of Northampton, Mass., on a shoestring. You can get a feel for her work by obtaining the Real Cost of Prisons Comix book which includes three comics: Prison Town about the financing and placement of prisons and their effect on rural communities; Prisoners of the war on Drugs, a history of the war on drugs; and Prisoners of a hard Life,which includes stories of women trapped by mandatory sentencing. To me, this last book is the most telling. PM Press publishes the book at $12.95 a copy.

Ahrens got the idea of doing comic books,partly because she wanted to find a way of communicating with prisoners in a simple,direct way providing them especially up to date information and new research. She hit on the idea,in part from years of going to Mexico, and watching women engrossed in photo novellas while tending market stalls or sitting on park benches. Then trade unionists from South Africa gave her publications chock full of graphics, pictures and text that they were using to educate people in their campaign to stop privatization and in the fight against globalization. She also got ideas from “A Field Guide to the US Economy” by James Heintz and Nancy Foibre which also uses graphs, cartoons and ordinary language to explain the economy.

Because prisoners can’t ordinarily take advantage of the information that currently proliferates on the internet, comic books which speak to their lives and needs, are available and free, she says.

Comic books have been received by prisoners in every state prison system,every federal prison and numerous jails. Thousands more have been sent to prisoners through 13 Books through Bars organizations. We know that comic books are passed hand to hand by prisoners,since as soon as a set is sent to one prisoner,not a week passes before we begin receiving requests from other prisoners at that prison..One prisoner wrotethat he found one on a pew in the prison

Ahrens web site is an up to date resource on prison news.

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CliffsNotes to the food revolution

The co-founder of Bitch magazine talks about living the Michael Pollan way and the gender politics of the kitchen
By Jaclyn Friedman

Aug. 31, 2009 | Mention the name Lisa Jervis in certain feminist circles, and you'll be met with the kind of breathlessness and swooning more often lavished on the Jonas Brothers. Jervis is the co-founder and former editor of Bitch magazine, for many the defining publication of a new generation of feminist critique.

Since leaving Bitch in March 2006, Jervis has stayed largely out of the public eye. But now she's returned to publishing with a different and somewhat unexpected project -- a cookbook.

"Cook Food" is what you would get if you combined CliffsNotes of Michael Pollan's foodie insta-classic "The Omnivore's Dilemma" with the vegan parts of Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist" cooking column in the New York Times, added a healthy pour of DIY attitude and ran it all through a blender. The book's subtitle calls it a "manualfesto," and that's just about right -- it's a nitty-gritty how-to with a political agenda: to give those of us with good intentions but limited budgets, skills, confidence or time a chance to participate in the burgeoning local food revolution.

Jervis' approach to what she calls "healthy, light-footprint eating" is refreshingly non-doctrinaire. She confesses her own food sins up front ("I indulge my junk food cravings when I really want to, and I end up eating cheese of unknown provenance much more often than I'd like to admit") and takes an informal, let's-just-do-our-best tone throughout. She's still a food geek -- from her detailed shop talk about kitchen equipment to her "novellini on the art of roasting vegetables," you can tell she's clocked plenty of hours thinking about, cooking and eating food -- and loving every minute of it. But she doesn't expect you to share her obsession. She just wants you to put aside your resistance long enough to share her technique for sautéeing dried herbs in oil, and her recipes for "chili-style beans 'n' greens" and "spicy brownies."

So how does a gal go from feminist icon to food writer? I caught up with her (disclosure: I've worked with Jervis on several projects) recently to ask -- appropriately enough, right around dinnertime, when she was snacking on almonds and preparing a hasty, nonfoodie meal: whole wheat pasta with sauce from a jar.

 So how does a feminist pop culture critic become a locavore cookbook writer?

 First, she likes to eat a lot. And likes to cook.

I've always been extremely skeptical of mainstream messages about what's healthy and acceptable and also very skeptical about the profit messages behind those messages. I mean, the diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that tells people that having a larger body makes them automatically unhealthy, that they have the capacity to change their large body through different food choices and that if they just follow the "right" plan, they will be successful in that. And all of those things are basically lies, and all of them are things that ultimately result in profit for pharmaceutical companies and diet food companies.

The sensibility I bring to food and cooking and thinking about what's healthy is very feminist, in that it's all about: How does this make my body feel? I really don't care about how it makes my body look. I'm interested in giving people the tools they need to eat what makes their bodies feel good and function better.

How is "Cook Food" different from all the other locavore/food ethics books out there right now?

 I think the main thing is that it actually has instructions. You can't read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and then go cook dinner unless you already know how to cook dinner. It's really hard to make better choices if you don't have basic cooking skills.

It seems like the stereotype of the person who cares about these issues is a white, upper-middle-class liberal NPR listener with two small children who eat nothing but organic. Why does the pro-food movement come off as precious and smug so much of the time?

 Farmers' markets do tend to spring up in places where middle-class and upper-middle-class people live. There's some truth to that. Organic food is obviously just more expensive than conventionally grown food.

As far as smug goes, one element of the current pro-food culture is that there's this focus on fancy ingredients and celebrity chefs and complicated preparations, and it makes people feel like cooking is this really specialized skill set. So I think people are intimidated by the idea that, if I'm going to cook, it has to be something special, and I have to have an excellent palate to see what's good. And you know what? You've been eating all your life. You know what's going to taste good to you. That is good food. It doesn't have to be what Alice Waters thinks is good food. What I really set out to do is to show people that it's in fact incredibly easy to put together a simple meal with fresh ingredients.

But it's not always that easy. Tonight I had to choose between going to the gym and cooking myself a healthy meal, even with all your handy easy recipes. Should I have planned better? What is going on there?

What's going on there is that you're a busy person, and a lot of people are busy, and we do have to make choices. I told you what I'm going to make for dinner, and that's because I had long day at work, and then I had a meeting, and now I'm having another meeting. We can't do everything every single day. And I'm all about accepting that, and being like, OK, this is how it is today, but tomorrow I can make beans and greens and have it for the rest of the week. Lightening your footprint and feeding yourself more healthy, whole foods is something that you have the opportunity to do three times a day, every day. That doesn't mean that you've failed if you aren't able to take that opportunity three times a day, every day.

For me, the concept of harm reduction is key. There's no way to feed, house or clothe yourself without doing some level of damage to the environment or other beings -- but reducing that harm in whatever way you can is still meaningful. I'm a fan of "aspiring," as in "aspiring locavore" or "aspiring vegan."

When Michael Pollan recently called for Americans to get back into the kitchen, a lot of feminists pointed out that, given the division of labor in American households, that would likely mean women getting back into the kitchen. Are you at all worried about the gendered implications of your work?

I love Michael Pollan, but the way that he talked about American feminists' attitude toward cooking was incredibly reductive and, frankly, pretty ahistorical. Articles like Pollan's (and anything that makes people feel like they are failing their obligations to themselves and their families by not cooking) produce a lot of guilt, and that guilt is gendered. That is a problem.

But I don't think the solution to that is to stop trying to get people to cook. The solution is to make sure that the household work is distributed more equitably. And I say that with full understanding of how little things have changed since the '70s, in terms of getting men to fucking do their share around the house. And I also think that it's no accident that the kind of rarefied, chef-dominated cooking discourse that I was talking about earlier, that often makes people feel like they can't cook rather than helping them feel that they can, is very male-dominated. Whereas the quotidian meal prep in this country is still mostly female-dominated. The feminist movement has generated a lot of good analysis around that. However, we have not moved the needle very much. I don't have an answer for that.

I also have a lot of frustrations with the way Pollan talks about "obesity." He talks about how obesity rates rise as rates of cooking fall. And I'm sure that's true, but it doesn't actually matter. Because obesity is not a good measure of health.

What really saddens me about the state of the pro-food discourse about obesity right now is that when Monsanto says genetically modified soybeans are not an environmental problem or a health problem, the pro-food movement is extremely skeptical, and they call that out as total bullshit. Whereas when the medical industry says "fat kills," they're not like: Actually, no, diabetes may kill, but the cause and effect relationship between the two is not as uncomplicated as you'd have us believe.

Speaking of Monsanto, doesn't all of the talk about individual meal choices distract us from focusing on the big-picture problems with our food supply, at the industry and policy level?

 I see this cookbook as an organizing tool. People get very overwhelmed when they start talking about food politics and they feel like, well, I don't know what to do about this. It goes back to -- this is something that people do three times a day every single day. That adds up to a lot of actions. I am no fan of market solutions as a rule, but we're still living under capitalism. There has to be a market component to any support for local farmers. So encouraging people, and giving them the concrete tools they need in order to purchase fresh food locally and use it well -- that adds up to a lot as far as concrete support for local food economies. Ditto giving people the tools they need if they want to cook animal-free meals. Movements are made up of individual actions.

Let's talk about the kinds of people who may be resistant to your message. What would you say to someone who hates to cook?

I would want to know what they don't like about it. Do they feel like they're going to produce something that's not good? Are they nervous about the result? Does their hand cramp when they hold the knife? Are they afraid they're going to cut themselves? Are they too tired at the end of the day? Maybe it's lonely in the kitchen. There are solutions to a lot of those problems.

What about someone who doesn't live near a grocery store?

That is a really tough one. I was in Detroit recently, and there are no big grocery stores in the entire city of Detroit. But there are also 600 community gardens in Detroit right now. That's one solution -- start a garden. Another one is: Get to know your neighbors, find out who has a car, try to figure out ways to band together with other people to source some better food for your neighborhood. These answers are not going to be realistic for everybody. But as awareness is raised about these issues, there are more and more places to turn to get help with this stuff. I'd recommend and to start.

And someone with a severely limited food budget?

A lot of farmers' markets take food stamps -- that's really important to know. Also, dried beans are your friend. They're incredibly cheap, and they're actually better for you than canned. If you can go to a market where stuff is available in bulk, you'll pay a lot less. Again, team up with your friends. Have a potluck cooking fest where everyone just brings one ingredient. You get together and you can make a really hearty meal and you may even have leftovers.

People do talk a lot about how expensive fresh food is, but packaged food is really expensive, too. A box of cereal is like five or six dollars, and that's crazy when you think about what you're paying for. You could get several times more breakfast for that money with just a bag of rolled oats, some nuts and some dried fruit.

Where did you learn how to cook?

I spent a lot of time as a kid and even as a teenager hanging out in the kitchen with my mom, watching her cook, talking to her about it, learning stuff about how food works. (And I have to point out here that my father always cleaned up after dinner, because my mother always says when you talk about it like that, you make it sound like we had this totally gender-normative household. And we didn't. My father is an ace kitchen cleaner.) And my mom's pretty improvisational, too; she'll turn leftovers into several different meals just by adding things. So I really learned to trust my instincts in that way. From so much observation and helping.

But a lot of it was also trial and error. I did not emerge from my parents' household knowing how to cook. I spent a lot of time making bad stir-frys in my early 20s.

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