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Marc Beaudin has commented on (2) products.

In the Shadow of the Sabertooth: A Renegade Naturalist Considers Global Warming, the First Americans and the Terrible Beasts of the Pleistocene by Doug Peacock
In the Shadow of the Sabertooth: A Renegade Naturalist Considers Global Warming, the First Americans and the Terrible Beasts of the Pleistocene

Marc Beaudin, July 1, 2013

There’s a feeling you get in Grizzly country when you’re passing too close to what looks like a perfect location for a bear’s day bed. Maybe a thicket of huckleberries, maybe an island grove of cottonwood with plenty of downed limbs and new undergrowth. But whatever it is, you stop in your tracks. Silent alarms are triggered, your hackles rise to attention, you forget to breathe.

That’s how it feels to come to the end of Doug Peacock’s latest book, In the Shadow of the Sabertooth: A Renegade Naturalist Considers Global Warming, the First Americans and the Terrible Beasts of the Pleistocene. The challenge he presents, vividly and unapologetically, of just how to respond to the effects of our long and brutal war against our own climate commands our focus and demands a decision.

Peacock’s writings, in one way or another, always elicit such a response. The difference is, in his earlier books, Grizzly Years and Walking It Off, the alarm is vicarious. One reacts to his harrowing experiences in Vietnam and close-calls with charging bears, or to his memories of walking the fine line between life and death in a southwestern desert or Himalayan snowfield. In this new book, the danger is not in his past, rather it’s in our collective future. And it’s a future that is so looming and imminent, that if we are to survive at all, we had better accept the idea that it is our present.

In the Shadow of the Sabertooth lays out the story of the great adventure of the first Americans in a visceral way that only a true American adventurer could. But more than that, it gives us the profound and desperately needed hope that we, today, can learn from our ancestors. That we can choose to preserve the one thing that can possibly sustain us through this current upheaval: Wilderness, that primordial memory of our evolutionary success that Thoreau rightly addressed when he wrote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” And finally, that we can heed the threat of the sabertooth lurking in the shadows, and once again rise to the challenge.
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Johnny Moon by Mike Palecek
Johnny Moon

Marc Beaudin, January 13, 2012

Mixing absurdist flights of fancy with poignant memories of a time that was never as innocent as we pretend, Mike Palacek has crafted a free-wheeling novel of the adventures of Johnny Moon, a young Catholic boy who strives to live up to the idealistic credo of his hero President John F. Kennedy: “A strong boy makes a strong man makes a strong nation.” A chubby, pants-wetting target for bullies and strict authority figures, Johnny chants this mantra while walking to school to lose weight, struggling to complete a push-up or stoically coping with everything from icy puddles to attacking S.W.A.T. teams.

When his hero is suddenly gone, Johnny finds himself the unlikely leader of a league of truth-seekers made up of classmates, nuns (who just might really be space aliens), and the coach and janitor (who just might believe that the school boiler is a time-travel machine �" and they just might be right). Through darkly hilarious twists and turns, intriguing mysteries and downright oddball WTFs, Palecek leads us into the JFK conspiracy, anti-communist paranoia, and the myriad eccentricities of Church and State. And, as in all of the writings of this Dali-Vonnegut-Chomsky conglomeration of a novelist/activist, the path by which he leads us is unlike anything we could imagine.

But beyond the surrealistic wildness that always marks a Palacek romp, what’s truly best in this novel is its profound empathy. We fall for Johnny Moon because we are Johnny Moon. Palacek remembers details of our childhood that we’ve long forgotten, and when we see (and feel, taste and smell) these minutiae of adolescence being lived by Johnny Moon we wonder how he was able to get into our heads and hearts unnoticed. In this most-enjoyable of his novels to date, Palacek shows himself to be a skilled cartographer of our collective dreams, fears and memories.

And if you don’t remember what you were doing when you heard Kennedy was shot, don’t worry; read this book, and you’ll always remember exactly what Johnny Moon was doing.
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