ASIAThe Tiger Ladies: A Memoir of Kashmir by Sudha Koul (Beacon Press, $24). Sudha Koul was born in 1947, the year India gained independence and Pakistan was created. She now enters the hot South Asian literary scene with this evocative, wistful memoir about the tranquil Kashmir valley of her childhood-a perfumed land where grandmothers surreptitiously smoke hookahs and religious differences are noteworthy only in hindsight.
FOODFatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial
Agriculture, edited by Andrew Kimbrell (Island Press, $45
paper, $75 cloth). In groundbreaking essays and breathtaking
photographs, Fatal Harvest movingly documents the high price-both
environmental and social-we pay for our industrialized food while
documenting the bountiful promise of sustainable agriculture.
BIRDSRare Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Lyanda
Lynn Haupt (Sasquatch Books, $21.95). It takes curiosity to lick a
bird nest to learn how it tastes-and pluck to raise 37 baby chimney
swifts by hand. Naturalist Lyanda Lynn Haupt has done these things
and more. Her collection of essays peers into the lives of such
common birds as crows and starlings, and examines the human-bird
connection in a way that is neither romanticized nor reductive. As
Haupt writes, 'The tinier the details I come to comprehend . . .
the more inspiring of awe.'
THE SOUTHWESTThe Underground Heart: A Return to a Hidden
Landscape by Ray Gonzalez (University of Arizona Press,
$17.95). Twenty-five years removed from his Southwestern roots,
Gonzalez chronicles his return to New Mexico and West Texas in this
impressionistic collage of essays. His fresh eyes see a changed
landscape: Pancho Villa bus tours, jimsonweed addicts, and dead
scorpions-in short, a suddenly foreign culture brought richly alive
by his long absence.
GARDENS AND PHILOSOPHYThe Art of Setting Stones &
Other Writings from the Japanese Garden by Marc Peter Keane
(Stone Bridge, $16.95). By walking us through the gardens of Kyoto,
then branching out into reflections on how we humans live on this
earth, Keane, a landscape architect and resident of Japan for 17
years, has created an evocative meditation, and a visual delight:
Each of these eight essays is accompanied by stunning black
clayboard illustrations the author carved himself.
PAINTINGAlfredo Arreguin: Patterns of Dreams and
Nature by Lauro Flores (University of Washington Press, $40).
Like mosaics, tapestries, and big boxes of Crayolas, the paintings
of Alfredo Arreguin enchant the eyes and carry the mind to a
vibrant and dreamlike place. With Spanish and English text, this
art book beautifully replicates Arreguin's lush tropical images on
canvases so detailed as to be worth a thousand gazes.