One of my ‘other’ / ‘many’ book clubs met today, during which our primary goal was to discuss Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, (2007) about her year of living off the land, their farm in southern Appalachia. We had a good discussion about our local attempts at healthy eating, good food, sources, farmers markets, our own gardens, but also awareness and the role that each of us plays in influencing others. This was the second time reading AVM for me and I enjoyed it more than the first perusal. I was disappointed then that her facts were out of date (2000 instead of 2005 or 7), that so many people wouldn’t relate (would you grow 1000lbs of tomatoes?) and with comparison to Michael Pollan’s book Omnivore’s Dilemma it seemed lacking. I liked the personal style, adored her youngest daughter’s chicken affair, admired her oldest daughter’s columns, recipes and advice. I hoped then and now that teenagers would relate to these aspects as well. I love almost all of Kingsolver’s books, especially Small Wonder and Prodigal Summer. Just discovered I had missed one, a nonfiction book about virgin lands in the USA. I will have to find that and was disappointed to learn our library doesn’t have it. The hunt is on.
AVM stands the test of time now too – five year later and I read it for its history, descriptions, curiousities, and for reading my notes/stars from my first reading! There are so many laugh out loud moments, but a number of “I wonder if they are still doing that? I wonder if that restaurant is still in business, I wonder if the food coop is still going, I wonder how the chickens are doing, how the ‘children’ have grown?”…. This is more of a memoir for me, a time capsule. She was also just awarded the Orange Prize for Literature in Britain (June 2010) for her latest novel Lacuna. I haven’t had a chance to read that, but know it is in the pile awaiting another free moment. Her interviews on NPR recently have also been delightful.
I am grateful that this book is still being read, that the discussions are being furthered, that awareness continues. We have such along way to go in our global consciousness. I highly recommend all of Michael Pollan’s books – the botany of desire, second nature, omnivore’s dilemma and food rules. Enjoy! See you at the Farmer’s Market.