All But My Life by Gerda Weissman: a Polish Jewish woman loses her family in the Holocaust and survived against all odds. Her story is important. She details how she survived and it’s a harrowing experience. But the book was a little too long and drawn out. It has a surprisingly happy ending.
This kind of thing is nearly impossible to put down on paper, as you can see. Once upon a time, many millennia ago, I suspect it would have been the default worldview, but today, it is a hard one to live with. The culture that I was born into is systematically dismantling the web of life itself, and as it does so it is dismantling my sense of meaning and many of the things that I love. My status as a middle-class consumer in a Western industrialised country means that I am part of this problem, whether I want to face up to that or not.
Autobiography of Mark Twain by MT: Great adventure, sweet happiness, and bitter tragedy were all facets of MT’s life. In that sense he was just like everybody else. He lost three children (two of them as adults) and his wife during his lifetime and made a few unwise business investments that bit him in the butt. Unlike most people he discovered a gift for expression saturated by droll humor. I enjoyed learning more about his life and appreciate that he was able to express his sorrows and even reveal the mistakes he made.
Charles Bowden wrote ‘A Mexican dictator once noted that nothing ever happens in Mexico. Until it happens.’ Bowden was an American writer and journalist who spent a lot of time in Mexico, especially in the border city of Juarez, 30 feet across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. The city he described in much of his writings since the mid-1990s is a hell on earth, a rapidly growing community already populated by well over a million souls, most of them living in squalor.