What We Are Reading Today: Falter by Bill McKibben

Updated 15 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Falter by Bill McKibben

  • It is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity

Falter, the environmentalist Bill McKibben’s latest book about threats to the planet, combines fear of bad outcomes with hope for good outcomes.  It is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity.

McKibben’s worst fear is summarized in his subtitle: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  

In a review published in The New York Times, Jared Diamond said McKibben’s book “is much more about grounds for fear, which take up some 18 chapters, than about grounds for hope, which take up five.”  Diamond added: “Fear will motivate some people who are currently undecided, and increase the motivation of others already convinced. But in my experience most people need a strong dose of hope to be spurred to action.” 

The review also said that McKibben “explains the present dangers to civilization, which include the risk of nuclear war and multiple hazards associated with climate change: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, rising sea levels, and ocean warming and acidification.”


What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

Updated 22 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

  • The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood

Air Traffic is a courageously written book that chronicles among other things Gregory Pardlo’s complex relationship with members of his family, particularly his father and younger brother.

Gregory Pardlo’s father was one of the thousands of air traffic controllers fired in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood.

Pardlo “is a talented writer and he examines so many issues in this memoir — race, economics, manhood, addiction, family and sibling relationships, marriage and parenthood,” says a review published in goodreads.com. A review published in The New York Times, Janet Maslin said: “The book is centered on the troubled relationship between the author and his father, although it roams freely in many other directions ... Simple description does not do Pardlo’s story justice; only his own sublime words can achieve that.” The review added: “When Pardlo won the Pulitzer in 2015 for his collection Digest, the citation praised his ‘clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st-century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.’ Replace the word ‘poems’ with the word “essays,” and you have an apt description of the second part of Air Traffic.”