The Story of Stuff

I did not get to any additional reading before this lovely tome arrived at my door (via Amazon - more on that later), partially because it arrived on Monday instead of Tuesday, but more because I chose to read a bit in The Sewanee Review instead.  I suppose The Sewanee Review does not count as a book, but it does count among those things I am reading, so it gets to be included.  I was surprised by how much I appreciated the book reviews, and the poems and essays so far have been great.  In particular, I thought it indicative of success that Robert Benson was able to make me appreciate hunting through his thoughtful essay, "The Old Lift of the Heart."

But now that The Story of Stuff has arrived, I've been poring over it pretty much non-stop, pencil in hand, and even using a Hampton Inn "Thought Pad" to make a list of "SOS Action Steps" as I have called them.  For sure, Annie Leonard's video was preaching to this proverbial choir, and I love the simple message of it.  The book complicates matters a bit in 2 discrete ways:  first, there is just much more information and therefore, much more complexity of information to deal with; second, the book is not particularly well-written.  It has that "talky" quality that the video does so well, but in a written text, it doesn't work as well for me.  I do suspect students might appreciate that informal tone, but they would most definitely struggle with the depth and breadth of information presented.  So, though I am enjoying the book immensely, I am hesitating on it being a good classroom selection.  The video, yes; the book, maybe?

As for those action steps, number 1 is definitely eliminating canned beverages from my life.  I was one of those naive folks who thought aluminum was better than plastic because of its recyclability.  I do recycle all my cans, but Leonard's compelling discourse on the monumental process of making aluminum (and its rather ridiculous usual use) has convinced me.  Plus, it's a good excuse to do something I've been wanting to do but haven't had the will power to do on my own: stop drinking sodas at home.  It's rare anyway, but this reading might just be the thing to push me over the edge - or pull me back, I suppose you could say.  The other major issue is number 4, and it has to do with my love affair with all things Amazon.  You might have noticed these handy links here that allow you to with one click navigate to Amazon's site where you could buy this book (or any of the others listed here).  How easy!  How interesting!  How disturbingly antithetical to Leonard's assertions.  

Amazon is not quite the evil empire in Leonard's eyes (that title is reserved for either Wal-Mart or Shell/Chevron/insertgiantoilcompanynamehere), but she does devote significant time to the unnecessary scope and scale of Amazon and its damaging effects.  Thus, I am beginning to rethink my relationship with this good-natured behemoth.  I have an idea to develop a relationship between the members of our department and one of the local booksellers to approximate the convenience Amazon offers on a local scale.  We'll see where that takes me.

By the way, do you remember that notion I had to read the books I knew I wanted to resell . . . "in the interest of lightening the load" was my wording, I think.  Well, at the CCCC yesterday, I stumbled across a display that was selling all its titles for $3.  That's cheaper than used, people.  Plus, they had The Paris Review Interviews (all 4!) for that incredible price, and these have been on my wishlist (Amazon, natch) for ages.  So, I bought them.  And 5 others.  How absurd.  How absurdly me.

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