Books, Noted
Brief reviews of books new to the shelves of the CLUI library

NOTE: The library at the CLUI is located at the main office in Culver City, California. While it is not a lending library, individuals wishing to use it may do so by appointment. A reading loft is made available for this purpose. The CLUI is currently expanding its bookshop at the Culver City location, where some of the CLUI library titles will be available for sale. The bookshop is open Friday through Sunday, Noon to 6PM.

For Your Moments of Inertia - From Levity to Gravity
John Paul Stapp, John Paul Stapp, 1992
Whiplash-resistant Colonel John Paul Stapp was known as both "the fastest man on earth" and the "deaccleration king" for his (voluntary) participation in human tolerance experiments performed by the Air Force on high speed test tracks. In 1954, for example, Colonel (and Dr.) Stapp reached 632 miles per hour on the rocket sled track at Holloman Air Base in New Mexico, and deaccellerated to zero in 1.4 seconds (subjecting his body to 40 times the force of gravity). This is a small, self-published book of haikus, poems, and other verse by Colonel Stapp (who went on to become the president of the New Mexico Research Institute).

Cinema Southwest - An Illustrated Guide to the Movies and their Locations
John A. Murray, Northland Publishing, 2000
Filled mostly with images of film stills from the classic westerns, and generally vague about exact locations, nonetheless, there are some contemporary film sites covered by this armchair guide, with some useful location hints (like the cliff that Thelma and Louise drive off is near Moab, Utah, on the road to the plateau district, past Sevenmile Canyon).

The Colossus of Roads - Myth and Symbol Along the American Highway
Karal Ann Marling, University of Minnesota Press, 1984
Though others have covered the theme of roadside americana with coffee-table elegance and clarity, this thoughtful little book lacks the nostalgia that often saturates the subject, and is a rare mix of scholarly depth, accessibility, and humour, withouta trace of ironic, postmodern detachment. An overlooked classic.

A Guide to the Sculpture Parks and Gardens of America
Jane McCarthy and Laurily K. Epstein, Michael Kesend Publishing, 1996
Handy state-by-state guide of nearly 200 sites, with major earthworks, rock gardens, and "visionary" land art sites. Primarily looks at the established and maintained outdoor sculpture parks like Storm King and the Walker Art Center.

Sanctuaries - A Guide to Lodgings in Monasteries, Abbeys, and Retreats
Jack and Marcia Kelly, Bell Tower 1996
Nice niche guidebook, listing over 1000 spiritual "retreats," and describes 127 places where the public can stay, usually for a fee.

Secret Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network
Nicky Hager, Craig Potton Publishing, 1996
It’s not that strange that one of the best books on the global electronic intelligence/espionage networks operated by goverment agencies like America’s NSA comes out of New Zealand, as that country, along with Australia, houses important earthstations for the network. This classic is now out of print.

The Destruction of California Indians
Robert F. Heizer, University of Nebraska Press, 1993
This book about the plight of Native Americans, originally published in 1974, is a bludgeon forged in the climate of Berkeley’s (where Heizer was a professor) Free Speech and protest peak, and as such some consider it unacademic, unbalanced, even unhinged. But its not so much a book, as a concept, a blend of subjectivity and objectivity which, in the context of his son (the famous land artist)’s work, assumes an almost sculptural purity.

The Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier that Divided a Nation
Roy Moxham, Carroll&Graf Publishers, 2001
Apparently, in the mid 1800’s, the British built an inpenetrable hedge across the entire Indian Subcontinent, so they could control the smuggling of salt, and collect the taxes for this essential Indian commodity. This is the story of this long forgotten and remarkable structure (2,500 miles long!), and the author’s search for its history. The book will be published in March of 2001.

Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California
William deBuys and Joan Myers, University of New Mexico Press, 1999
Though photographers and artisits have increasingly explored and depicted the Imperial Valley of California in recent years, little outside the local area has surfaced in print. This is the first big book about the region, one of the most spectacular and undernoticed places in America.

Canaries on the Rim - Living Downwind in the West
Chip Ward, Verso Press, 1999
A personable account of the grass-roots environmental battle against the waste sites and toxic industries of the Great Salt Lake Desert, from the point of view of someone who in fact organized many of these campaigns. Ward discusses the Tooele Chemical Weapons Incinerator, Dugway Proving Ground, and the Magnesium Corporation of America’s plant, all of which are globally superlative toxic sites (MagCorp emits more than 90% of the chlorine gas in the entire country), and all of which surround his little rural town of Grantsville. One of the books that Mike (City of Quartz) Davis helped make happen through Verso’s Haymarket series.

Landscape In Sight - Looking at America
John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Edited by Helen Lefowitz Horowitz, Yale University Press, 1997
Another recent collection of JB Jackson’s writings, this one is also a must read. Especially the introduction by the editor who exposes some interesting facts about JB’s life, and the early years of his Landscape Magazine.

Isolated Houses
John Divola, Nazraeli Press, 2000
A slim, large format photo book showing his photos of those little, mostly abandoned shacks that dot the landscape east of 29 Palms, in the Morongo Valley area of the Southern California desert. A savvy twist on romantic cliches about the desert as wasteland in the magic-hour, or not, you be the judge, but the photos are vivid and definately a landmark in the history of desert and landscape photography.

Car Camping: The Book of Desert Adventures
Mark Sundeen, Harper Collins, 2000
New book of no-doubt-mostly-true desert travel adventures by recent CLUI Wendover Residence Program participant Mark Sundeen, who along with Erik Bluhm, publishes Great God Pan magazine.

Clearcut - The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry
Paul Devall (editor), Sierra Club Books/Earth Island Press, 1993
A big book of photographs of trees and lack therof, taken from the ground and the air, all over the continent, with essays on the evils of the forestry industry. An environmentalist epic, printed on mostly postconsumer waste paper.

Goldfield Hotel - But You Can't Leave, Shirley
Shirley A. Porter, Western Book/Journal Press, 1992
If you’ve ever been on US Highway 95, on the stretch connecting Reno and Las Vegas, you passed within a few feet of the huge, old, abandoned Goldfield Hotel. Millions of dollars have been sunk into this classic, Olde West hotel (the biggest of the buildings still standing in Goldfield, once the largest city in the state, now with a population of a few hundred), yet all redevelopment schemes have fallen apart, so far (there is another one in the works). This book, from a small publisher, tells the story of one of the recent owners of the hotel (1976 to the early 1980’s) who actually lived there during that time, amidst all the ghosts...