Tag Archives: Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior and Global Weirding


Last weekend, Graeme had a fever and so I ended up spending most of the weekend curled up on the couch with or near him as he perused Tin Tin books or watched DVDs and as I read Barbara Kingsolver’s newest novel, Flight Behavior.


I’ve enjoyed Kingsolver’s work ever since I read The Bean Trees for English class in high school and then headed straight for the library to find Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams. One college summer afternoon I started reading the first chapter of The Poisonwood Bible and found myself unable to do anything else until I’d finished. Even when Kingsolver gets on my nerves by being a heavy-handed in making a point, political, religious, or philosophical, she can sure turn a phrase and weave a plot.

This new novel has all the charms (if also the usual shortcomings) of Kingsolver’s earlier books; I was a little worried that she would be excessively pushy with the “issue” of this one–climate change–but she kept it pretty real.

Speaking of “real,” climate change is, and it’s so apparent in Malawi that everyone from university professors to brickmakers will tell you about it. Most people in Malawi grow their own staple food–corn that’s pounded and cooked into a doughy paste called nsima–and so when the weather goes weird and the rains are late or too scant, they feel it in their empty bellies: people who have never owned a car, never had electricity, never bought a computer, suffering the worst effects of a climate problem that they didn’t create.

Is this not close to the definition of “unfair”?

I don’t want to give any exciting plot details away, but a similar (yet, of course, very different) injustice forms something of a theme in Flight Behavior. There’s also a lot in there on faith and science. I recommend it!


What I Want vs. What I HAVE


One of the things I love about gardening (and eating in season) is that it shifts your focus from what you WANT to what you HAVE.

potatoes, purple and yellow, dug just before dinner

Instead of saying, “Hmn, what do I feel like eating?”, you say, “What do we have? What’s ripe and ready?” and you build your meal around that. And that–as Barbara Kingsolver suggested in this interview–turns everyday eating into a practice of gratitude.

Rather than starting with what I want, I start with what’s actually here.

beautiful heirloom tomatoes: Riesentraubes, Gold Medals, and Amish Pastes

And that’s a pretty beautiful place to be.

(Though I’m sorta getting tired of fresh tomatoes. Which is fine, because they make good tomato sauce.)