New Yorker

Someone emailed me a few days ago to tell me my book was mentioned in the New Yorker. I went to my unread stack of reading materials (it’s busy, prime farm time) and found the latest issue, and frantically found the following mention from Elizabeth Kolbert:

The basic setup of “No Impact Man” is, by this point, familiar. During the past few years, one book after another has organized itself around some nouveau-Thoreauvian conceit. This might consist of spending a month eating only food grown in an urban back yard, as in “Farm City” (2009), or a year eating food produced on a gentleman’s farm, as in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (2007). It might involve driving across the country on used cooking oil, as in “Greasy Rider” (2008), or giving up fossil fuels for goats, as in “Farewell, My Subaru” (2008).

Of course anyone who has read Farm City knows that it is more than a stunt. I’ve been farming in the city for over ten years! When I met with my editors, I was clear: I will not write this as if it all happened over one stunt year (it *is* their favorite literary device). Why? Because farming takes time. You learn things over years, not weeks or months. So I was really disappointed to be locked into the stunt year category. It’s true that there are a few chapters in Farm City devoted to telling the story of eating out of my farmlet exclusively for one month. I decided to include that stunt because almost everyone’s first question is: do you live off the products of your farm? Do you ever go to the grocery store? The idea of self-reliance is particularly American, and I think that is why so many people want to read books about survival stunts. By the end of my stunt month I discovered that the idea of self-sufficiency is a ruse. Like Kolbert points out at the end of her article, real environmental change won’t happen until we come together and work for change as a community.

As for my book, I hope Kolbert will take the time to read Farm City and see that urban farming is not just a stunt, it is a true life: and it is taking the country by storm.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “New Yorker

  1. She obviously didn’t read your book. Take heart. Many are reading your book and loving it. You’re an inspiration to cities full of people who want to live a better life.

    Excelsior!

    Martha Ann

  2. Karyn

    Isn’t it terrifying that journalists are commenting on things that they haven’t read and really know NOTHING about? How much is this going on? Is it just happening in book reviews or the FRONT PAGE too? This kind of arrogance really bugs me.

    *I* read your book, Novella, and it’s very, very good. You are a beautiful writer. Some of the images are seared into my head in lovely frames of hay, seeds, and dirt.

    I hope you write again, because I’d love to read another book of yours, but please don’t feel pressured to write what the publisher wants you to write. You write what motivates you. Short story? Novel? Whatever YOU want.

  3. Doc

    I urge you to hunt Kolbert down and politely but very firmly point out corrective truth. The New Yorker is fiercely excluding of “outsiders” (and let’s face it, it would be hard to be more outside to The New Yorker than a left coast urban farmer, literate or otherwise — Anyone who resides west of Jersey who’s not already in the masthead is Alfred Packer to them), but if Penguin’s assigned publicity kid fogs a mirror, have her/him arrange a conversation.

    If the Penguin kid flunks the mirror test, send me e-mail (I had to enter my addy to post this) and I’ll send you the contact info I have for the New Yorker PR honcha and her henchwoman and you can pursue them. Be prepared to be a goat and not take no-answer for an answer of “no”.

    PS: Great interview on KALW yesterday (how I discovered you & your book’s existence). Radio is a great medium for you. Of course, it helped you had a knowledgeable & talented interviewer, but your wit and energy shined in that medium.

  4. Doc

    OOPS. SPIKE LAST.

    I see now you work in media & publishing. So you know all that info already.

    Sorry. The sloppy injustice of it just triggered a talk-b4-I-researched jeremiad. Pretend I just sent you the q-doe at the bottom.

    best wishes,
    doc

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