Saturday, April 4, 2009

April books

Charles Bowden is one of my go-to writers. Here's my BOOKLIST starred review of his new book:

Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing: Living in the Future.Bowden, Charles (author).
Apr. 2009. 256p. Houghton, hardcover, $24 (9780151013951). 917.904.
REVIEW. First published March 15, 2009 (Booklist).

Bowden is a blood-and-guts journalist with a poet’s sensibility, a noirish naturalist, a ferociously inquisitive witness to life’s glory and horror torn between the desire to embrace the world and the need to hole up in a drapes-drawn motel room. Bowden covers the borderland drug culture in such high-voltage dispatches as Down by the River (2002), while also writing darkly rhapsodic works of memory and reflection. This ravishing chronicle follows Blood Orchid (1995) and Blues for Cannibals (2002) to complete an “accidental trilogy” of books that flow from a single question and a single hunger: how can a person live a moral life in a culture of death—the deaths of people and animals, forests and oceans, clean air and water. Writing with molten urgency, confessional magnetism, and piercing detail, Bowden chronicles his unlikely friendships with a rattlesnake and a desert tortoise, enigmatic encounters with women, the psychic repercussions of his murder investigations, and his part in a terrifying Greenpeace mission. Red wine, Moby-Dick, human brutality, the suffering of other species, the obdurateness of paradox, the ambush of love, beauty beyond comprehension, the immensity of loss implicit in our planetary crimes—Bowden, singing in chains, says yes to all of life.

Donna Seaman

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