Pop Culture: The Green Invasion


From eco-friendly films to progressive podcasts, Plenty picks the best in summer entertainment



BOOKS:
Beach Reading
These quick, engaging books are great companions for any summer trip


SKINNY DIP
by Carl Hiaasen
(Warner paperback, $12.95)
Chaz Perrone, a wildlife biologist charged with monitoring the sensitive Everglades region, doesn’t recycle, chucks empty plastic bottles on the ground, and likes to run over snakes in his Hummer. He also tries to kill his wife by throwing her off a cruise ship, seemingly for no reason—but the beautiful swimming champion survives the fall and is rescued by a kindhearted ex-cop. The two of them proceed to make Chaz’s life miserable, covertly raiding his house (and hoping to discover his murderous motives in the process). Author Hiaasen, a veteran environmental journalist in South Florida, peppers his outlandish tale with touching evocations of the area’s natural beauty. Witty, absurd, and fast-paced, Skinny Dip is the ultimate environmental beach read. —Christy Harrison

THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan (Penguin, $26.95)
Pollan’s masterful new book is risky reading for anyone harboring vague back-to-the-land fantasies. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he traces four individual meals back to their sources in different systems of production, each of which is part of an entire lifestyle and culture. Pollan’s exposé of industrial agriculture is so damning and his pastoral evocation of local food economies so compelling that you may be tempted to chuck your life for another one lived off the grid. —Wesley Yang

U.S.!
by Chris Bachelder
(Bloomsbury, $14.95)
In the alternate early-’90s universe of Bachelder’s novel, radical leftists find their spokesman in Upton Sinclair, the muckraking consumer advocate and author of The Jungle (1906). Specifically, they resurrect Sinclair from the dead and parade him around from one speaking engagement to the next, where he is routinely assassinated. Between rebirths and deaths, the increasingly bullet-pocked socialist writer produces a series of political novels, which are met with scathing critical reviews. Clever and funny, U.S.! is also a poignant meditation on the relationship between art and politics. —C.H.

THE LAST AMERICAN MAN
by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin, $26.95)
Eustace Conway, owner of the Turtle Island Preserve in North Carolina, can hunt with a homemade blowgun, make fire by rubbing sticks together, sew clothes from animal hides, and cross the U.S. on horseback in a world-record 103 days. But he can’t seem to find a wife or keep close friends around for long. Elizabeth Gilbert’s sympathetic, sharp-eyed portrait of Conway traces this complicated, idealistic man’s history from his childhood fascination with wildlife, to his riveting lectures about living off the land, to his frustration that he can’t convince those close to him (much less the rest of world) to change their resource-hungry ways. —Deborah Snoonian

FIELD NOTES FROM A CATASTROPHE: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
by Elizabeth Kolbert (Bloomsbury, $22.95)
Too often books on global warming read like homework, but Kolbert’s engaging work is the exception to the rule. Expanding upon her in-depth series for the New Yorker, Kolbert discusses the scientific evidence for global warming, its inevitable consequences for people and wildlife, and how local action may help to reverse the damage. She peppers her deft reporting with anecdotes about the people behind the research and captivating descriptions of the far-flung places where global-warming science happens. —C.H.

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Issue 25



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