Book Reviews

Declare your independence! Beyond the best sellers lists and media hype there is a world of big books concepts being brought forth by small, independent presses. Meet a few of them, their books and authors.

Big Books

Small Press

Old Atkinson Press thanks to

Ever wonder how many books come to be? The small press world is alive and well. The independent small press can take a chance or do something the big corporate publishing empire would never dare. Explore a few small presses with big ideas. We look at Waging Peace For A Living: An Action Plan for Survival of Lie on Earth, The Magic Fish, When Spirits Come Calling, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things and Saving Wilderness in the Oregon Cascades: the Story of the Friends of the Three Sisters

Waging Peace For A Living
An Action Plan for Survival of Life on Earth
by Walt Taylor, 1999

231 pages soft cover $25

Copies of this book are available from
95 Knoop Lane
Eugene, OR 97404
add $5 to cover postage.

Book Review
by Lois Barton

This book presents a carefully thought out concept inspired by extensive awareness of social, political, economic and ecological affairs the world around. The first chapter sets the stage for seriously engaging ourselves in a program to avoid terra-cide, the ruin of the planet through human action and policies. Throughout the book we are reminded that the "powers that be" control dissemination of information, including a statement by nearly 1700 of the world's leading scientists from 71 different countries, 104 Nobel Laureates among them, which was signed in 1993. This two page statement warns humanity of impending catastrophe if we do not reverse our present direction.

Walt Taylor proposes developing a list of all the work needed to turn our world to sustainable development, and the means for paying for the work. He is concerned that unemployment is used as a tool for controlling inflation. Everyone deserves the right to gainful employment at work that is beneficial to the planet and its people. Using dictionary definitions for "growth" and "development" he point out that we cannot continue economic "growth" based on natural resources which are finite.

He suggests to have some non-governmental organizations (who are already at this kind of work) collaborate to develop such a comprehensive list of needed work, and a cooperative funding arrangement to make it do-able. He posits a trillion dollar annual fund to cover this work, and suggests a common fund shared by all the NGOs as the most reasonable procedure. Taylor concedes that he is an incorrigible optimist, but justifies this condition by what he calls Taylor's Law: "Optimism is essential for life even when it may not seem justified by the available evidence."

He lists seven reasons for optimism.

1. Expanding public awareness.
2. Greater appreciation for aboriginal wisdom.
3. A demonstration of sustainable forestry.
4. A change already exists in the hearts and minds of people.
5. The Jubilee 2000 international debt cancellation program.
6. Taking responsibility for the next seven generations.
7. Waging Peace for a Living.

Appendix I lists 96 NGOs whose platform include certain characteristics: international peace, human rights, ecological economics, survival interests, women, minorities, aboriginal and third world concerns.

Appendix II is a draft time table for waging peace.

Appendix III is a draft budget for the one year research project.

Appendix IV lists the purposes of a Waging Peace society which was established July 26, 1993 in British Columbia, Canada.

This book is a rare blueprint of reasons and methods for change that will benefit all being on this planet.

Walt died in June, 2002

Saving Wilderness in the Oregon Cascades:
The Story of the Friends of the Three Sisters

by Lawrence C. Merriam

published by Friends of the Three Sisters Wilderness
Eugene, Oregon 1999
52 pages $5.00 including postage.
Lovely identified color photos on the cover and in a center fold.
Many black and white photos and 5 maps.

Book Review
by Lois Barton

Here is a prime illustration of how a few concerned individuals can effect public decision making. A handful of members of the Obsidians (a Eugene outdoor club) formed a committee to help protect the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, a group of three high peaks of the Cascades Mountain range and their watersheds and meadows. Twenty four years later President Carter signed the Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978. A major victory but the effort wasn't over. Many areas still needed to be included.

An introduction in this booklet provides some geological and historical background of the Cascade Mountains, the creation of the United States Forest Service in 1905, the development of wilderness areas and the Willamette National Forest. After WWII timber interests began challenging restrictions against logging in national forests. In 1954 the Forest Service regional office in Portland announced a recommendation to reclassify the Three sisters Wilderness Area to allow logging. In October that year a committee of the Obsidians met to organize Friends of the Three sisters Wilderness Area.

This booklet follows the development of that Committee and its work over the next forty years. Details of specific areas under dispute are followed blow by blow, including the participation of many other organizations, U. S. presidents and elected representatives in the national congress to reach final definition of borders and multiple use of the area. Names and photos of active participants in the work are included. The Friends organized annual treks to parts of the area sometimes including more than two hundred people for a three day camp out.

The first appendix is a copy of the minutes of the organizational meeting. Appendix II lists by year from 1955 to 1998 the location of annual summer camps and remarks about attendance, access, etc. Appendix III has personal comments and recollections by, and photos of, fourteen of the organizers, early leaders and council members. A bibliography of notes and references provides chapter and verse for each step in the process.

This is an impressive record of the value of persistence and political know-how in achieving environmental goals. And the photographs are lovely.

Copies are available from:
Ed Sullivan
973 Northridge Ave.
Springfield, OR 97477.
Phone (541) 747-8010.

When Spirits Come Calling

The Open-Minded Skeptic's Guide to After-Death Contacts

by Sylvia Hart Wright
Blue Dolphin Publishing Company, Inc.
Nevada City, CA, Spring 2002
Soft cover, 242 pages, Index $15.95

Book Review
by Lois Barton

Sylvia Hart Wright, a graduate of Cornell University, holds advanced degrees in sociology and information science and believes in the enduring individual spirit after death. How does an academically trained skeptic come to this position? Her interest in after-death contacts developed after she was widowed and began sensing her former husband's spirit contacting her. Her experiences pop up throughout the text.

Using the techniques of the researcher and social scientist, Wright interviewed 78 people who have had such contacts. They are reported under chapter headings such as "Sensing Someone Else's Death," "After a Suicide," "Lights That Blink a Message," "Symbolic Events," "Animal Stories," and "More Help and Guidance from Loving Spirits."

Around each topic (and there are seventeen chapters) Sylvia Wright questions and analyses the meanings and apparent validity of the reported experiences. Her commonsense purview in everyday language laced with witty asides reflects a delightfully straightforward, avowedly skeptical approach.

Princess Marina dreams of her lost mother in Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre from the book Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb, illustrations by Elizabeth Shippen Green Elliot, Children's Classics, NY, and New Jersey, 1986.
Shakespeare, like many of his contemporaries, loved and wrote good "ghost" stories such as Hamlet and psi stories like Pericles.
In many old translations from Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit, the words ghost and spirit are interchangeable.

Closing chapters examining "Who Becomes a Sensitive" and "Spiritual Experience and Religious Belief" are based on extensive research. Does psi run in families? What is the role of childhood abuse in creating sensitives? What about twins? Each chapter includes references to many studies relevant to the topic. A section on notes in the back of the book lists the sources for these references.

This book offers a new perspective to those people who believe this life is all there is. The evidence in these many personal stories is overwhelming. The recognition of cultural and religious taboos that create negative disbelief is clearly conveyed. On the other hand, it is apparent that human awareness of psychic contacts has been part of human history since the beginning. "...Throughout the millennia humans around the globe have turned to sensitives to penetrate the veil of death... Today's scientists have developed awesome skills for weighing and analyzing material things but so far they've failed to detect the fine, essential stuff of spirit... To the open-minded it should be clear that spirit exists".

Sylvia says, "Over time, my own experiences, plus scores of interviews with people who've had similar ones, have transformed me from a total skeptic to a firm believer in survival of the spirit after death."

She invites you to check out her website at

Sylvia will be at:

Borders Books and Music
5 Oakway Center in Eugene, Oregon, 7 p.m., Thursday, July 18th, 2002.
She'll talk 15-20 minutes, take questions, then do a book signing. This event is free.

Unity of the Valley
3912 Dillard Road (at the corner of Hilyard and 39th), Eugene, Oregon, 7-9 p.m., Monday, July 22, 2002.
This is a longer presentation. Admission is on a sliding scale. For more information, call 345-9913.

The Magic Fish
Poems on an Edward Boccia Sketchbook

by Jennifer Bosveld
Pudding House Publications
134 pages, $18., $2.50 postage
e-mail orders:

Book Review
by M.G. Hudson

This book is a work of love. It is beautiful. The soft-bound cover is a painting by Boccia of the magic fish. (Boccia is a professor of art and a poet himself as well as a world recognized painter with pieces in collections, galleries and cathedrals all over the world.) Every left hand page is exquisite with his surrealistic and whimsical pen and ink drawings. On the next page is the verbal counterpoint. This poetry is an ekphrastic celebration, making poetry more like polyphonic musical accompaniment to visual art than a kind of literature. What's that, you say? Yes, Jennifer Bosveld, an award winning poet (Ohio Arts Council), is a revivalist in the art of ekphrastic poetry - that an archaic form of poetry which is meant to bring interpretations and increased attention to visual art.

Looking for a different kind of art book for yourself or a lover of poetry and art? Here is a rare find.

Mosaic Man, pen & ink, 1992
by Edward Boccia
from The Magic Fish
Mosaic Man

He is the gentlest of the gentlest souls you know
whole head functions sweet as honeydew
plum humble eyes
soft as a grandmother he is
kind as new rain

His mouth was made to recognize your
every well-performed task, with the
kindest words you've ever heard

His energy fields flies all the way to Saturn
His beauty surpasses the myths of Apollo
and his hearing is accurate and divine

You never looked in the right place
You never asked the right person
All you ever needed was for someone to tell you
All you ever wanted was to know for sure

Jennifer Bosveld, 2002

"The poet and the painter must give way to the irrational which includes humor and mystery."-- Edward Boccia

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
by Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart
Paperback: 208 page
Publisher: North Point Press
ISBN: 0865475873; (April 22, 2002)

Book Reviewed
by Buhrayin at,

At 1-1/4 lbs, "Cradle to Cradle" is more than twice as heavy as a same-size paperback edition of John Steinbeck's "The Winter of Our Discontent" and the fact is more than incidental.

"Remaking the Way We Make Things", the book's subtitle, is the social agenda of its authors, architect Bill McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. They take issue with the three R's of environmentalism, "reduce, reuse and recycle." The process by which plastic bottles are recycled into carpet, for example, also produces considerable waste and the carpet itself "is still on its way to a landfill; it's just stopping off in your house en route."

The authors advocate designing products so that after their useful lives, either the product components provide biological nutrients for new products or circulate in a closed industrial loop.

The Yanomamo of Brazil whose banana soup dish may contain the ashes of their dearly departed was one source of inspiration for Braungart and McDonough. They were moved by the simple, natural and effective technology of the Bedouin whose goat hair tents ventilate hot air up and out and, when it rains, swell with absorbed moisture and provide protection.

The authors are walking the talk with the physical design of this new book. It is made of a waterproof polymer developed by Melcher Media so it can be read in the bath or at the beach, provided you have sufficient wrist strength to hoist it to viewing level. And the book can be "upcycled", made into a high quality polymer, at least theoretically. Until such time, place this book on the shelf above your hot tub next to Aqua Erotica, a collection of stories dealing with water and sex, another book of "Durabook" construction.

Undoubtedly, an electronic edition of the book would be most eco-effective. Also, a digital version would be searchable and might compensate for lack of an index. Despite its flaws as a model, it offers a vision of the future in which people and their stuff can co-exist.

What books are you reading? Send your review to

© Spencer Creek Press, West By Northwest 2000-2002 All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher and/or sponsors.

West by Northwest
Spencer Creek Press
PO Box 51251
Eugene OR 97405

West By Northwest

Voices of Peace, Volume VI
Africa: Peace with Justice Northwest Tour
Starhawk's Heresies in Pursuit of Peace: Thoughts on Israel/Palestine.
Sarah Shields asks Please Dad, Tell Me: How Do I Stop Being Complicit?
Peg Morton sharesMy School of the Americas (SOA) Saga.
Web links
Erbin Crowell considers Coffee and Fair Trade.
Illegal Logging Threatens Ecological and Economic Stability.
Ecstasy of Ecology - Penny Livingston and the Permaculture Institute.
Norman Solomon considers India and Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons and Media Fog and the USA's "War On Terrorism": Winking At Nuclear Terror.
M.G. Hudson asks us to Consider the Case of Patricia Sweets: The Failing Safety Net of Publicly Financed Health Insurance.
Patrick Morris, writes on the role of the Royal Pains.
High Plains Films releases This Is Nowhere
Meet Skip Schiel, an remarkable photographer
Delight in Guy Weese's Summer in the City Photos
Doug Tanour's Exodus Poems
Jane Farmer uses the medieval villanelle
Explore a few small presses with big ideas. We look at The Magic Fish, When Spirits Come Calling, Saving Wilderness in the Oregon Cascades and Cradle to Cradle.
Barbara S. Thompson's My Life, Chapter 4, Moving Out West to Los Angeles.
Cogentrix to Aquila, Going from Bad to Worse? by Mary Zemke.
Lois Barton's Sunnyside of Spencer Butte, The Cat That Flew and Sauerkraut and All That.
Jonnie Lauch's electronic debut in Nighttime Intruder.


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