Sacrament: Homage to a River

by Rebecca Lawton
photography by Geoff Fricker
Heyday, 2013

153757157.XDu14WJiIn Sacrament: Homage to a River, Geoff Fricker’s atmospheric photographs reveal the geology, salmon runs, fluvial morphology, and human impact of the Sacramento River. In dreamlike black and white, the river takes on mythic proportions, in both its wild eco-systems and its human-made influences. Interwoven with Fricker’s images are Rebecca Lawton’s eloquent descriptions of the beauty of the river and the issues that currently surround it. (from

  Rebecca Lawton’s  essay collection Reading Water: Lessons from the River was a San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area Bestseller. She currently serves on the board of directors for Friends of the River.

Geoff Fricker’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, the Crocker Art Museum, the Library of Congress, and in other collections in California, Hawai‘i, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas.

My Postwar Life

edited by Elizabeth McKenzie
foreword by Karen Tei Yamashita
Chicago Quarterly Review Books

My Postwar Life is a collection of new writing from Japan and Okinawa. The collection includes fiction, poetry, and essays by authors Deni Y. Bechard, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel, Hiroshi Fukurai, Ryuta Imafuku, Setsuko Ishiguro, Roland Kelts, Mari Kotani,  Janice Nakao, Kim Shi-Jong, Keijiro Suga, Iona Sugihara, Goro Takano, Stewart Wachs, Stephen Woodhams, and Kentaro Yamaki. A few of the the authors, including Leza Lowitz, Shogo Oketani, Tami Sakiyama, Takayuki Tatsumi, and Katsunori Yamazato are past contributors to MĀNOA Journal.

Also included in My Postwar Life is a play by Masataka Matsuda, an interview with the former mayor of Nagasaki Hitoshi Motoshima, photography by Shomei Tomatsu, and a series of scans made from the illustrated journal of a soldier in the Imperial Army.

Elizabeth McKenzie’s story collection Stop That Girl was short-listed for The Story Prize, and was a Newsday and School Library Journal Best Book of the year. Her novel MacGregor Tells the World was a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the year, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book, and a School Library Journal Top Ten Book of the year. She has received a Pushcart Prize for her short fiction, which has been included in The AtlanticBest American Nonrequired ReadingThreepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and other literary journals. She was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts/Japan-US Friendship Commission Creative Artist Fellowship, and is the editor of My Postwar Life: New Writings from Japan and Okinawa, published in 2012.

The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology


by Robert Bringhurst
Counterpoint, 2007

The Tree of Meaning presents thirteen superb and surprising lectures on language,  storytelling, mythology, comparative literature, humanity, and the breadth of oral and literate culture.

Bringhurst’s “ecological linguistics” includes studies of Native American art and illuminating essays about Haida culture, the process of translation, and the relationship between being and language. A companion collection of speeches and lectures by Bringhurst, Everywhere Being Is Dancing: TwentyPieces of Thinking, is also highly recommended.

Robert Bringhurst is a poet, translator, linguist, and typographer. He has published more than a dozen books of poetry, and his manual The Elements of Typographic Style has become one of the most influential contemporary texts on typographic design. He has worked for many years with Native American texts. He lives on Quadra Island off British Columbia.

No Bottom

41shfpo340l-_sx333_bo1204203200_By Mike Newell
Xoxox Press, 2008

Working on seasonal wildfires in the 1970’s and 1980’s across Alaskan tundra and mountain ranges, wildland firefighter Mike Newell developed a deep appreciation for an arctic and subarctic landscape whose scale dwarfs all human effort. Returning each fire season, Newell found himself increasingly transfixed by the primal allure of the Alaskan bush. Years later, he paused in a bookshop and pulled Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams off the shelf. What he found there began to engender in Newell a sense of what one reader has described as “learned understanding of wild places.” The chance encounter with Lopez’s National Book Award winning non-fiction work began a pattern of inquiry for Newell that, over twenty years later, now culminates in the publication of No Bottom. Newell’s book features an incisive interview with Barry Lopez accompanied by a careful inquiry into Lopez’s short fiction books. Both the interview and the critical inquiry serve well as a primer for those coming new to Barry Lopez’s work and as a valuable source of insight for scholars.

Mike Newell is the author of three books of poetry —Underground Fires, The Unlived Life and Aestivation—and the newly-issued No Bottom. Following his early years as a wildland firefighter, Newell taught at-risk students in public schools and correctional facilities for over two decades, retiring in 2004. After a 19-year hiatus from firefighting in Alaska, he re-certified his fire qualifications in 2000 and went to work on western wildfires. Mike Newell lives and writes in upstate New York. (Publisher’s description)


Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation

By Jonathan Lear

Harvard University Press, 2006.

Jonathan Lear, a psychoanalyst and professor of philosophy, delves into what he calls the ‘blind spot’ of any culture: the inability to conceive of its own devastation. He molds his thoughts around a poignant historical model, the decimated nation of Crow Indians in the early decades of the twentieth century. The last Crow chief, Plenty Coups, told his white friend and biographer, Frank B. Linderman, about what happened to his people “when the buffalo went away.” They were despondent, and in Plenty Coups’ words, “After this nothing happened.” Lear dissects this phenomenon, and the Crows’ struggle for continued survival, in a highly esoteric discussion drawing on the writings of Aristotle, Plato, and other philosophers. What makes this discussion relevant to mainstream readers is his application of the blind-spot hypothesis to the present, in which the twenty-first century was ushered in by terrorist attacks, social upheavals, and natural catastrophes, leaving us with ‘an uncanny sense of menace’ and a heightened perception of how vulnerable our civilizations are to destruction, as was the Crow’s. (Reviewed by Deborah Donovan, Booklist)