Review: Bob Dylan: Inspirations by Essential Works

Bob Dylan: Inspirations
by Essential Works
Rating: ****
Read 8/2/2013
Classic Dylan quotes married with iconic Dylan photos. What’s not to like? One wonders, of course, if Dylan pocketed any cash from this project, and one sincerely hopes so. It’s a small square book, just right to slip into the backpack of a kid going away to school, perfect for a housewarming present, and nice for any coffee shop anywhere.

Dylanheads shouldn’t miss this, but I don’t think it’s a good vehicle to convert the newbies with.

Review: Columbia River Gorge by Marty Sherman

Columbia River Gorge
by Marty Sherman
Rating ***
Read 7/30/2013

This is a heartbreaking look at what the Columbia River Gorge used to be. Rife with editing errors that don’t matter a bit, compared with the photographs of what used to be. For me, the most telling caption (on an overhead photo of the Bonneville Dam) “The stuff that nations are made of- development and progress. It invariably means the death of a river.”

Lots of photos of Celilo Falls that was, pictures of the mighty Columbia when she was mighty indeed.

Probably of interest to historians and Oregonians only.

Review: Sea by Mark Laita

by Mark Laita
Rating: ****
Read 7/23/2013

Technically brilliant, full of beautiful aquatic animal photographs. If I’d seen this book before SerpentineĀ I’d probably have given it five stars. However, I did see Serpentine first, and I love it best. It’s undoubtedly harder to pose fish than serpents. And snakes, to my eye, are far more lovely than fish.

Still, absolutely gorgeous. Laita’s eye is something very special.

Review: Serpentine by Mark Laita

by Mark Laita
Rating: *****
Read 7/14/2013

Absolutely beautiful. Provided, of course, that you like snakes. Which I do.

Snakes, all photographed in achingly clear detail, each jewel-like scale highlighted. Very little text, but what there is is perfect. There were lots of varieties of snake that I’d never heard of, and I raised a reptile fanatic.

Words fail me, trying to describe this book. Just: if you like snakes, even a little, you should get this.

Review: Out Here by Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Dorband

Out Here: Poems and Images from Steens Mountain Country
Poems and Drawings by Ursula K. Le Guin
Photography by Roger Dorband
Rating: ****
Read 5/13/2013

I’ve been dipping into a fair bit of poetry lately, mostly revisiting favorites here and there, but rarely reading a books straight through. This book is the exception. I went last year to see Le Guin and Dorband at Powell’s books when this first came out, and Le Guin read several of the poems, which were stellar. Her poetry has resonated only intermittently with me throughout the years, and this collection works better for me than the ones which have come before. Or perhaps I’m older now. With Le Guin, it’s always safer to assume that the fault lies with the self rather than the writing.

Dorband’s photos are lovely. I would that the book were much larger format so I might examine them more minutely. I can’t wait to go to see this country with my own eyes.

Here’s my favorite poem from the book:


The hawk
I see you but I do not notice you,
a little dusky scurrying of fur.
I ply a hard trade, and I take my due.

The vole
To me you are a shadow from the blue,
and I am gone before you can appear.
I see it, but I do not notice you.

The hawk
I see my shadow flying as I do
but on the ground; sky is my kingdom, where
I soar and only stoop to take my due.

The vole
Rich with the gathered grain, I tunnel through
a darkness kinder than the light by far,
those shadows where there is no trace of you.

The hawk
Owl owns the shadows, for I never flew
but in the shining of the sunlit air.
I live by light and blood, and pay my due:
I am your death. It will be quick and true.

The vole
I am your life, and your immortal share.

We are and shape each other, I and you.
We ply a hard trade, and we take our due.

-Ursula K. Le Guin