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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Desire

 Sean and I recently watched a film based on (and named after) Michael Pollan's book, The Botany of Desire, which tells the history of four different plants and how they have evolved with help from humans:  apples, potatoes, marijuana, and tulips.  The premise is that while we think we are so clever at using certain plants for our own benefit, although plants don't "think", they are using us humans for their own advancement, as our desire and cultivation of them has made their propagation successful.  For instance, flowers are desirable to humans because of their beauty.  The most extreme example of flowers' desirability is shown in the tulip craze of 17th century Holland, when a single bulb sold for as much as a house.

We just received an order from a book dealer in the Netherlands for fourteen gardening books.  We sell quite a lot of books going to other countries, probably about a quarter of our sales, but rarely such a nice big stack going to one person, as shipping the books costs almost as much as the books themselves.  It's a good feeling to have a colleague in Holland, land of the tulip and beautiful gardens, choose books from our stock.

Reading Notes
I just read After Dark, a very short novel, by Haruki Murakami.  I had read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles a couple of years ago on the recommendation of a friend.  Both books had a dreamy (in fact, one of the characters in After Dark is asleep), surreal quality and I kept wanting there to be a clear explanation for what was happening, but to no avail.  In After Dark, this dreaminess was juxtaposed with scenes of modern Japanese pop culture:  alienated youth, cell phones (okay, maybe these things aren't particularly Japanese), Denny's (not Japanese), love motels (Japnanese!), convenience stores, motorcycles, names of songs.

I'm also reading The Penguin Anthology of Short Stories by Canadian Women and Moving Targets:  Writing with Intent 1982-2004 by Margaret Atwood, which is a book of occasional pieces, including many book reviews.

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