Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Next Worst Hard Time

I am currently reading Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time, the story of the folks on the High Plains who didn't leave during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. It's like a non-fiction companion piece to John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. I had heard of this book last year. During a trip to the Hyve, I heard Egan on some public radio show. He was discussing his book and the film (which he also discusses in the book) The Plow that Broke the Plains. The film sounds fascinating--a 1930s documentary of how the farming practices of the 1920s contributed to the Dust Bowl conditions. I really want to see this film (it has something to do with that other lives stuff I was talking about in my last post, but, I digress...).

As luck would have it, The Worst Hard Time was selected as the Lincoln One Read Book last month, so the public library featured it prominently during my last foray for publicly borrowed Johnny Cash CDs (I found one). Perhaps it would have been more fitting if I had been looking for Merle Haggard CDs, but, that is not the case, and, in this instant, I have decided not to exercise my right of artistic license. Johnny Cash was whom I was searching for when I found The Worst Hard Time. So, having previously been interested, I picked the book up.

It's been a slow read to start with. That could be because I have not been reading it except for when I am abed. Bleary-eyed and thinking about how much sleep you can get before the alarm goes off at 5am is no way to enjoy a book. But, I am enjoying some of the stories. I sometimes wonder: how entertaining can three hundred pages about flying dirt be? At such times, I remind myself that it is really about the human drama of determination in the face of economic and natural forces.

Underneath it all, however--underlying the stories of the farmers beaten down by the depressed price of wheat, the mortgagees getting foreclosed on, the citizens beating on the closed door of their empty, penniless bank, the desperate and stubborn fighting the drought, locust, and swirling sediment--is the story (reiterated from The Plow that Broke the Plains) of humanity's disregard for the natural world and the consequences of humankind's actions. It is a story we need to hear today more than ever; however, those that need to listen the most, have their ears closed the hardest.

As the ice caps shrink and walruses come ashore far south of the receding ice flow, as oceans rise and temperatures soar, as drought takes hold of larger areas of the planet, and forests are decimated at record pace, as species become extinct before we even discover them, we must make it clear to those that doubt that our actions are surely responsible for these occurrences. It is not a natural trend. It is not something that will soon reverse itself. It is the vision of our future, and it is not pretty.


Bill said...

Nice double-whammy. I just finished being shocked at this then I come here and read about a dejected walrus. Thanks for bumming me out.

The big question: What will be more of a downer, The Worst Hard Time or The Grapes of Wrath? Let us know.

comoprozac said...

You find two other blogs that mentioned Merle Hagard on the same day and I'll paint my body black and gold and run up and down the streets of COMO screaming "M-I-Z" and wait for the inevitable "Z-O-U". Do it. I dare you.

Anonymous said...

When is a Reda not a Reda?

When he's abed!

You do spin a good blog about flying dirt and related issues.

That's all I got. Apparently my clever is having the worst hard time. And that's saying something.


Ethan said...

Poor Walrus. I like the Walrus, they've always made me laugh.

I'm going to the Hickman Rockbridge game now, I'll have to leave a longer comment later.

Have a nice day Mr. Reda.

Ethan said...

I think, Mr.Reda, you would find this interesting:

It shows how it doesn't appear that it's just earth going through changes, but our entire solar system.
It as citations from scientists and the like.

Then again, I'm crazy :D