From the woods
“I never know what I’ll find in the woods – it’s a queer place,” writes Gretchen Legler in her new book, “Woodsqueer: Crafting a Sustainable Life in Rural Maine” (Trinity University). She moved with her partner to Maine from Alaska and purchased 80 acres of forest with a house and a shed. For the past two decades, they have worked together to create gardens that could feed them all year round, breeding goats, hunting, hiking and connecting with the varied and abundant life around them. Legler, who teaches at the University of Maine in Farmington, has written a warm and clear-eyed book about her experiences that describes an intimate connection to the place and people as Legler and her partner choose a slower pace, closer to nature. Even in her challenges, she argues strongly for the deep value of knowing the plants and animals where one lives, the joy and compassion that knowledge and attachment evoke, not only for the sparrows, the dairy plant, the dove, but also for one. another and for ourselves. Legler has a persistent belief in the “things we can not see or prove,” and the book is as much a matter of the nourishment and healing at the soul level that is possible when we are open to learning from land as the is a description of the lived texture that bends away from the pace and lightness of modern life, and how it over time offers a bridge to “the pulsating, pulsating energy” that connects us all, humans, plants, creatures.
The story of Kendall Square
Kendall Square, a pocket in Cambridge where developments in the world are changing, has a long history as a national leader. In the early 20th century, it was soap making, candy, printing and high-tech rubber. Now biotechnology dominates the neighborhood, and its small size – one square kilometer – contradicts the influence and impact of the ideas that arise from it. “Where Futures Converge: Kendall Square and the Making of a Global Innovation Hub” by Robert Buderi (MIT Press) is a biogeography of the area, a compelling story of the place and a vivid portrait of what it is today. He treats the area as an ecosystem that is constantly changing. “The story of Kendall Square is one of relentless change and evolution,” he writes. He talks to professors, entrepreneurs, members of the Kendall Square Association, historians, scientists in an attempt to understand what makes the place what it is, as well as the challenges it faces: it has some of the highest rents. in the country, people can not afford to live there, it is dead in the evenings and on weekends, reducing the possibility of serendipital encounters leading to bigger brainstorms and even more fresh ideas. And he looks to what is possible in the future of Kendall Square, by forging stronger links between science and the humanities and continuing to change the way the world approaches climate change, medicine, energy, transport and technology. It’s not just a look at the biotechnology jungle, but a story about some of the most important developments of the last century.
In 2018, Chloe Maxmin defeated a Republican challenger in a campaign for the Maine House of Representatives in Augusta, a rural and deep red district, and became the first Democrat to do so. In 2020, she defeated the incumbent minority leader in the Senate. The success of these campaigns is the theme of “Dirt Road Revival: How To Rebuild Rural Politics and Why Our Future Depends on It”, written by Maxmin and her Harvard classmate and campaign leader Canyon Woodward (Beacon). The book is a clear look at rural America and is read as an intriguing political story, told with warmth and wisdom. It reveals the experiences they have learned as they approach their campaigns “decided to invent a new theory and practice for a democratic resurgence in rural America.” Their on-ground, person-to-person approach has led to a lively, informative look at how Democrats can approach the rural reds of the country. “Shake your hands enough, and your hands will shake you.”
“Son of Elsewhere: A Book of Remembrance Broken” by Elamin Abdelmahmoud (Ballantine)
“We measure the earth with our body” by Tsering Yangzom Lama (Bloomsbury)
“Rainbow Rainbow” by Lydia Conklin (Catapult)
This week’s selection
Josh Cook at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recommends “The Revenge of the Scapegoat” by Caren Beilin (Dorothy): “How does it feel to be held accountable for a world you have no power over? A wildly original, dark joke, at times disturbing story of burden, patriarchy, art, escape and cows that step on your heart if you lay down on their field.A surprise in plot, image and sentence on each side.The revenge of the scapegoat is unlike anything you have ever read. “
Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren.” She can be reached at email@example.com.