Duck Duck Book

25 – whiteout
10.16.2005, 12:04 am
Filed under: comix, fiction

Whiteout [comic book] / created and written by Greg Rucka ; illustrated and lettered by Steve Lieber ; cover art by Frank Miller ; chapter art by Matt Wagner … [et al.] ; cover logo by Monty Sheldon ; book design by Steven Birch at Servo ; collection edited by Jamie S. Rich ; original series edited by Bob Schreck with Jamie S. Rich.
Portland, OR : Oni Press, c2000.
[MCL call number: GN RUCKA; one copy, no holds]

Carrie Stetko is a United States Marshall in Antarctica, where it’s kind of like you’re nowhere because there aren’t exactly any nations, but then also of course it’s somewhere and there you are. The Antarctica of this comic is a disturbing place — it’s frozen and treeless, and the social order and cultural norms of the place are twisted by the cold and people’s odd and often unhealthy reasons for being there.

As a marshall, Stetko has little authority but is responsible for investigating whatever weirdness comes up (a murder, in this story), and there’s plenty of intrigue to go around. Russians, Brits, scientific researchers, military personnel, and lots and lots and lots of snow and ice and bitter chill wind. Whiteout is something like a police procedural, except there is almost nothing like a procedure available to Stetko. It’s something like a spy novel, except Stetko no more concerned with CIA type stuff than your average cop. Maybe what Whiteout is most like is a classic hard boiled detective novel, with tough dialogue and lots of fighting but still a good amount of clever detective stuff. Whatever category it belongs in, the story is gripping and I highly recommend it.

Whiteout is continued in:

Whiteout : melt / written by Greg Rucka ; illustrated & lettered by Steve Lieber…
Portland, OR : Oni Press, c2000.
[MCL call number: GN RUCKA; six copies, no holds]

Also, you may have noticed that for some reason, the library only has one copy of Whiteout. Does this sadden or inconvenience you? If so, you may suggest that the institution purchase more copies.


25 – black on white
10.16.2005, 12:03 am
Filed under: social sciences

Black on white : Black writers on what it means to be white / edited and with
an introduction by David R. Roediger.
New York : Schocken Books, c1998.
[MCL call number: 305.8 B6276 1998; two copies, no holds]

A collection of short classics on the narrow but interesting topic of just what is it with these white people anyway. The book provides a nice introduction to the work of a great number of excellent African American writers, so it is a good starting place for anyone interested in beginning a journey into African American thought and literature.

Read this book, and if you find, for example, that you like Derrick Bell’s essay on whiteness as property, well, then you can look a bit further and read his books on the history of the civil rights movements, gospel choirs, or Brown v. Board of Education. Or, if you’ve only read Toni Morrison’s fiction, you may enjoy beginning to explore her other work with the excerpt from her book Playing in the Dark.

But even if Black on White weren’t a good place to begin exploring literature, it would be worth your time, and here’s why: the idea of race has largely been defined and explicated by the people who have the most opportunity for expression: white people. An analysis of what whiteness is, what it means, how it works, and what it’s for — but one conceived and written by Black people — is bound to be fresh and interesting.

So, if you think racism and the idea of race definitions are wrong, or even if you aren’t angry about it, but you do think it’s a bit silly, then take a few hours to consider what Black people have to say about whiteness.

(Unfortunately, Black on White has no index or other supplemental endmatter.)

25 – smaller majority
10.16.2005, 12:02 am
Filed under: science

The smaller majority : the hidden world of the animals that dominate the
tropics / Piotr Naskrecki.
Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.
[MCL call number: 591.70913 N254s 2005; two copies, no holds]

Again I have been lulled into reviewing a book simply because of its lovely photographs. The Smaller Majority provides a visual introduction to some of
our planet’s smaller forms of life — large enough to be photographed with a standard camera, but smaller than a human finger. Naskrecki’s photographs are in full, bursting color, accompanied by sensible captions which note where each photograph was taken. The text is intelligent, providing a brief introduction to each of the different classes of creatures and then a shorter discussion of many of the species pictured.

The Smaller Majority is largely taken up with illustrations and descriptions of insects, but there are also worms, frogs, lizards, and spiders in its pages. Some real wonders are presented — the caecilian, for example, an amphibian which is the dead spit of an earthworm, despite its having a complete skeleton and no true tail (pages 46-47). Another gem is the section of surprisingly beautiful photographs of small insects that have been killed by infestations of fungus (pages 136-37).

The book has three main sections, delineated with helpful colored tabs at the bottom of each page. Most of the book has green tabs, indicating tropical humid forests, but there are shorter sections describing the smaller life forms of savannas (orange) and deserts (gray). The main text is followed by several appendices, including one about photography, a list of resources (organizations and books), and an index to species.

25 – world shores
10.16.2005, 12:01 am
Filed under: history & geography

World shores and beaches : a descriptive and historical guide to 50 coastal treasures / Mary Ellen Snodgrass.
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2005.
[MCL call number: 910.9146 S673w 2005; two copies, no holds]

World Shores and Beaches is a reference guide to coastal areas around the world. This book has that thrilling quality of all great reference books: when World Shores and Beaches is the book you need, nothing else will do. Wondering about the archaeological work that has been done in Acapulco? Interested in the mythology of Kaho’Olawe, Hawai’i? Fascinated by pearl diving in Dubai? Urgent for a quick fix of info about the state of the natural environment in Phuket, Thailand? Go no further, this book can help.

World Shores and Beaches gives a terse but eloquent description of the mythology, history, archeology, and ecology of the beaches described, together with information about current coastal activities, and contact information for groups and individuals who involved in tending or protecting each area. A short bibliography follows each entry, and the main text is followed by a glossary, a general bibliography, an appendix of books & films that provide information on beaches and shores, and a very thorough index.

Snodgrass has written countless other fascinating reference works, including the Encyclopedia of Kitchen History (New York : Fitzroy Dearborn, c2004), World Epidemics : A Cultural Chronology of Disease From Prehistory to the Era of SARS (Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., c2003), and An Illustrated Dictionary of Little-Known Words From Literary Classics (Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, c1995). The breadth of her work makes it seem like she’d be a fascinating dinner companion, don’t you think?