Reviews by amy
George Saunders is so funny, you'll cry; and so on target, you'll be thrilled just knowing he's around to point out what's right and wrong with the world. The first essay is a classic skewering of America, circa 2005. My two favorites are the essay analyzing what makes a good short story, followed by his "introduction" to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
John Muir's memoir of his first enthusiastic ramblings through the Yosemite valley and the high Sierra - the landscape he would come to symbolize and protect through a life of tireless advocacy - is a labor of love, chock full of his unabashed passion for, and detailed observations of, the flora and fauna and vistas he can't get enough of. An accessible quick read from one of America's greatest naturalists.
The Wall Street Journal dubs this "The European 'Gone Girl'" which should have warned me to stay away since I was frustrated by a complete lack of empathy for the main characters of the latter. But I ended up liking this book better, partly because it was both lighter in action (it takes place over the course of one pretentious dinner in an expensive restaurant) and skewering in plot. As you blithely laugh along with Paul while he rolls his eyes at the pinky-pointing maitre d' and the pretentions of his hollow brother, you suddenly realize you're complicit in the much more insidious flaws of his character and his role in a dark secret which is slowly revealed over the course of the meal. You may not like these people, but you know people sort of like them. And you sure hope they're not you.
You know those horrifying fish from the deepest parts of the ocean - the ones with lanterns dangling over their heads, massive teeth completely out of proportion to their size, and stunningly weird phosphorescence? You think you've seen them all? Well, you haven't. There are even weirder and more horrifying sea creatures on this video than you could ever imagine. Narrated by the godfather of natural history, David Attenborough.
Another solid NOVA effort exploring the science behind the puzzling 400-foot high, 3.5-mile Dry Falls in central Washington and how it came to be. It takes a while to suss out the full story, as the video takes its time with historical reenactments, contemporary interviews, and some of the sensationalized video production we've come to expect when revealing "secrets" and "mysteries" on film - spooky video effects and dramatic music leading up to the mind-blowing truth Soon To Be Revealed! And that mind-blowing truth - that all this peculiar geology was caused by the catastrophic collapse of an enormous ice-dam holding back the waters of the once-massive Glacier Lake Missoula 1,000 miles away - is just mind-blowing enough you'll happily sit through the animated sequence depicting the collapse of the damn several times.