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Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver

Small Wonder: Essays (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Barbara Kingsolver

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1,859245,345 (4.03)77
Title:Small Wonder: Essays
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Harper Perennial (2003), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 267 pages
Collections:non-fiction, Your library

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Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver (2002)


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I listened to the audiobook which Barbara Kingsolver narrates. I borrowed it from the library, but this book is so good that I am buying the ebook to have on hand to read again and even use for reference. I feel I cannot do justice with a review, so I offer a review by someone else who I feel has expressed my own view of the book pretty well. I will add that I am very strongly impressed with Kingsolver's views and her so beautiful way of articulating them. She feels deeply, but she is gentle in her expression. The book is not only thought provoking. It is also very entertaining.

The link to the review I mentioned is: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/41504591 ( )
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
Could teach from "A Fist in the Eye of God"--esp tight summation of Darwinian theory.
The first steps toward stewardship are awareness, appreciation, and the selfish desire to have things around for our kids to see. Presumably the unselfish motives will follow as we wise up. --Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder, 68
  precaritas | Aug 30, 2017 |
In this book of essays, Kingsolver expresses so eloquently my feelings on such topics as parenthood, stages of being a female, corporate swallowing of small businesses, war, the evils of TV, responsibility for homelessness, sex in literature, and poetry in school. Her non-fiction touches me much more than the previous novels of hers I’ve read. Although a bit naive and too liberal on the topics of homelessness and war, her way with words simply amazes me. This is the book that finally shows me what writing talent the author has. I think it surprising that, “dafka” in the last essay, she stated not to call her naive! I guess she knows the audience she is addressing. Interestingly enough, that particular essay was the only one of those she chose for this book that I didn’t care for all that much. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Apr 28, 2016 |
I am struggling with how to rate this book. I loved parts of it, and some of the writing, but then I'd read something that made me roll my eyes and grit my teeth. As Kingsolver says, "This is a collection of essays about who we seem to be, what remains for us to live for, and what I believe we could make of ourselves." So there's a lot in these 260+ pages.

Kingsolver channels some Annie Dillard in writing about the landscape and nature near her two homes (she doesn't match Dillard's skill, though). She also channels a vein of smugness and self-righteousness that I find distasteful. It's easy to bemoan the state of something and not propose a solution beyond, "Well, if politicians had to take care of babies, they wouldn't go to war" (see page 252). I loathe that kind of non-sensical triteness.

But then, at times, she spoke to me so clearly and articulated so well, thoughts that I have. About reading and books. About family. About what makes up a good life. In the first essay, she writes, "However much I've lost, what remains to me is that I can still speak to name the things I love." And in the last, "Maybe life doesn't get any better than this, or any worse, and what we get is just what we're willing to find: small wonders, where they grow."

A final note: the essay "And Our Flag Was Still There" is an excellent rumination on the meaning of flags, national pride, the co-opting of symbols to specific (often hateful) rhetoric, etc. I found it particularly worthwhile reading given the current state of political discourse in the US. As Kingsolver says, "We're a much nobler country than our narrowest minds and loudest mouths suggest. I believe it is my patriotic duty to recapture my flag from the men who wave it in the name of jingoism and censorship." Amen. And I think I just decided to up my rating. ( )
1 vote katiekrug | Nov 22, 2015 |
A collection of essays that read, many times, like secular sermons. I enjoyed the book. ( )
  BooksCatsEtc | Jan 3, 2015 |
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To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it. --Wendell Berry
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On a cool October day in the oak-forested hills of Lorena Province in Iran, a lost child was saved in an inconceivable way.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060504080, Paperback)

Readers familiar with Barbara Kingsolver will find that Small Wonder, a collection of 23 essays, shows the same sensitivity and thoughtfulness, the same rich knowledge of and love for the natural world, as her spellbinding novels. In "Knowing Our Place," she describes the two places in which she writes: a tin-roof cabin in Appalachia and her home in the Tucson desert. In "Setting Free the Crabs," she uses her daughter's decision not to take home a beautiful (and occupied) red conch shell from a Mexican beach to illustrate our own need to give up our sense of ownership of the earth, to resist "the hunger to possess all things bright and beautiful." Many of these pieces, like the lovely title essay, were written (or rewritten) in response to the events of September 11, which threw into relief the growing social and economic inequities that are so little remarked on in the American media. These are political essays, although Kingsolver is not a natural rhetorician; her prose is too supple and inclusive. She is more inclined to follow the turns of her mind, like water in a curving stream bed, than to hammer home a point or two. But she has a rare gift for apt allusion (from sources as wide-ranging as Robert Frost to Beanie Babies) and for the elegant use of facts and figures. And she is highly quotable. It is easy to imagine the speechwriters and activists of the next 10 years dipping into Small Wonder for inspiration and the perfect phrase. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:04 -0400)

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"In her new essay collection, the beloved author of High Tide in Tucson brings to us from one of history's darker moments an extended love song to the world we still have. From its opening parable gleaned from recent news about a lost child saved in an astonishing way, the book moves on to consider a world of surprising and hopeful prospects, ranging from an inventive conservation scheme in a remote jungle to the backyard flock of chickens tended by the author's small daughter.". "Whether she is contemplating the Grand Canyon, her vegetable garden, motherhood, adolescence, genetic engineering, TV-watching, the history of civil rights, or the future of a nation founded on the best of all human impulses, these essays are grounded in the author's belief that our largest problems have grown from the earth's remotest corners as well as our own backyards, and that answers may lie in those places, too. In the voice Kingsolver's readers have come to rely on - sometimes grave, occasionally hilarious, and ultimately persuasive - Small Wonder is a hopeful examination of the people we seem to be, and what we might yet make of ourselves."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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