Reviews for The Anthropocene Reviewed (Signed Edition): Essays on a Human-Centered Planet

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The bestselling author offers a miscellany of essays on life and letters in an environmentally fraught time.Green, who admits to a certain amount of OCD, opens charmingly with a telling instance: It took him 30 days to create a path through the woods behind his Indianapolis home to reach a treehouse less than a minute away: It took me a month to build a fifty-eight-second walk in the woods. He might well have conjured the critic Morse Peckham, who once observed that a futile activity isnt so futile if it puts off recognizing its own futility. Its one of few bookish allusions Green misses in this pleasing book of essays personal and cultural. The author notes that we are at a moment when everything is rated thanks to the pernicious influences of Amazon and Yelp and such; Green calls a bout of labyrinthitis an unambiguously one-star experience. The ratings continue: He gives humankind a four-star chance of surviving the present era of mounting catastrophes, the Anthropocene. His register of references is far-ranging. Among dozens of other topics, he discusses Shakespearean evocations of clouds, the origins of the pathetic fallacy in the writings of John Ruskin, and the worlds largest ball of paint, which can be found not far from Greens home. There are fine moments throughout, as when the author writes appreciatively of Indianapolis as a place he loves precisely because it isnt easy to love or when he ponders the social basis of genius, by which artists such as Michelangelo flourished because others were making advances in the study of human anatomy and Julius Caesar became a dictator becauseover time the empires soldiers felt more loyalty to their military leaders than to their civilian ones. In a treat for die-hard fans, each copy from the first print run will be signed by the author.A grab bag, but one that repays reading and reflection and a pleasure throughout despite occasionally dark moments. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Anthropocene, according to the National Geographic Society, is “an unofficial unit of geologic time, used to describe the most recent period in Earth's history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet's climate and ecosystems.” Significant is putting it mildly. Environmentalists might say catastrophic, even apocalyptic. John Green, an award magnet for his six beloved, best-selling young adult novels, including Turtles All the Way Down (2017), channeled his curiosity about disparate aspects of our lives on our "human-centered planet" into a podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed, the foundation for this essay collection, his first nonfiction book and first book for adults, though YAs will avidly read and revel in it, too.Why "reviewed?" Green explains that his fascination with reviewing stems from his time working at Booklist, where he “became fascinated by the format” of our succinct reviews, which we call the haiku of book reviewing. Wryly contrasting the challenges of writing concise yet nuanced reviews with the ubiquitous, rather questionable five-star scale used to rate everything from restaurants to doctors, he thought, why not review the world? When is a Booklist Review of the Day not exactly a review? When the Booklist editor writing it worked with Green during his time on staff. So this is reportorial, not evaluative. I can state, therefore, that Green combines stories from his life, including a distressing number involving his suffering through such wretched ailments as labyrinthitis, viral meningitis, and depression, as well as tales of being enthralled, as a boy bullied at school, by scratch ‘n sniff stickers, then a bit later, the CompuServe Teen Forum. Green delves into the impact of the months he spent at age 22 as a student chaplain at a children’s hospital. That experience turned him away from his intended path to a life as a minister, but there is something of the sermon in his essays as he mixes curiosity and erudition with confession, compassion, and wit, searching for illuminating life lessons amid life’s dark chaos. His particular mix of irony and sincerity enables him to embrace both the sublime and the ridiculous.Green's reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic include an inquiry into historic pandemics as well as his tracing of the life of the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, as it was taken up by fans of the Liverpool Football Club (Green is a soccer devotee), then sung by British paramedics to encourage coworkers in the intensive care unit. Green fits a remarkable amount of facts, observations, and feelings into his tightly constructed essays as he ponders an array of subjects, from The Great Gatsby to the Lascaux cave paintings, air-conditioning and climate change, teddy bears, rivers, and Indianapolis, and shares indelible moments with his parents, his friends, and his wife and their two children. And each essay concludes with a five-star-scale rating. One star for plague. Piggly Wiggly gets two and a half stars. What merits five stars? The movie Harvey (there’s a Booklist story behind that). Sycamore trees. When a book receives a “starred” review in Booklist, one star says it all. This is not a review. But if it were, it would carry the Booklist star.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Anthropocene, according to the National Geographic Society, is “an unofficial unit of geologic time, used to describe the most recent period in Earth's history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet's climate and ecosystems.” Significant is putting it mildly. Environmentalists might say catastrophic, even apocalyptic. John Green, an award magnet for his six beloved, best-selling young adult novels, including Turtles All the Way Down (2017), channeled his curiosity about disparate aspects of our lives on our "human-centered planet" into a podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed, the foundation for this essay collection, his first nonfiction book and first book for adults, though YAs will avidly read and revel in it, too.Why "reviewed?" Green explains that his fascination with reviewing stems from his time working at Booklist, where he “became fascinated by the format” of our succinct reviews, which we call the haiku of book reviewing. Wryly contrasting the challenges of writing concise yet nuanced reviews with the ubiquitous, rather questionable five-star scale used to rate everything from restaurants to doctors, he thought, why not review the world? When is a Booklist Review of the Day not exactly a review? When the Booklist editor writing it worked with Green during his time on staff. So this is reportorial, not evaluative. I can state, therefore, that Green combines stories from his life, including a distressing number involving his suffering through such wretched ailments as labyrinthitis, viral meningitis, and depression, as well as tales of being enthralled, as a boy bullied at school, by scratch ‘n sniff stickers, then a bit later, the CompuServe Teen Forum. Green delves into the impact of the months he spent at age 22 as a student chaplain at a children’s hospital. That experience turned him away from his intended path to a life as a minister, but there is something of the sermon in his essays as he mixes curiosity and erudition with confession, compassion, and wit, searching for illuminating life lessons amid life’s dark chaos. His particular mix of irony and sincerity enables him to embrace both the sublime and the ridiculous.Green's reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic include an inquiry into historic pandemics as well as his tracing of the life of the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, as it was taken up by fans of the Liverpool Football Club (Green is a soccer devotee), then sung by British paramedics to encourage coworkers in the intensive care unit. Green fits a remarkable amount of facts, observations, and feelings into his tightly constructed essays as he ponders an array of subjects, from The Great Gatsby to the Lascaux cave paintings, air-conditioning and climate change, teddy bears, rivers, and Indianapolis, and shares indelible moments with his parents, his friends, and his wife and their two children. And each essay concludes with a five-star-scale rating. One star for plague. Piggly Wiggly gets two and a half stars. What merits five stars? The movie Harvey (there’s a Booklist story behind that). Sycamore trees. When a book receives a “starred” review in Booklist, one star says it all. This is not a review. But if it were, it would carry the Booklist star.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

YA novelist Green (Turtles All the Way Down) makes his adult debut with this perfectly calibrated collection that reviews and rates various aspects of the current epoch. Taking on the style of a Yelp review, Green assigns a five-star rating to each topic he covers. “Our Capacity for Wonder,” for example, gets three and a half stars (due to humans’ general lack of attentiveness), while Diet Dr. Pepper gets four—Green loves the drink, but finds consuming it feels like “committing a sin.” His review of the video game Mario Kart gives way to a discussion of privilege and a consideration of the role videos games played in the male friendships of his youth: “We didn’t need to talk about Mario Kart, but we needed Mario Kart to have an excuse to be together,” while CNN gets two stars for its failure to report “background information that allows us to understand why the news is happening.” Each short review is rich with meaning and filled with surprises—”Sunsets,” for example, draws on several poems to ask “what should we do about the clichéd beauty” of a setting sun— and together, they amount to a resonant paean to hard-won hope. Green’s legions of fans will be delighted. (May)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The bestselling author offers a miscellany of essays on life and letters in an environmentally fraught time. Green, who admits to a certain amount of OCD, opens charmingly with a telling instance: It took him 30 days to create a path through the woods behind his Indianapolis home to reach a treehouse less than a minute away: “It took me a month to build a fifty-eight-second walk in the woods.” He might well have conjured the critic Morse Peckham, who once observed that a futile activity isn’t so futile if it puts off recognizing its own futility. It’s one of few bookish allusions Green misses in this pleasing book of essays personal and cultural. The author notes that we are at a moment when everything is rated thanks to the pernicious influences of Amazon and Yelp and such; Green calls a bout of labyrinthitis “an unambiguously one-star experience.” The ratings continue: He gives humankind a four-star chance of surviving the present era of mounting catastrophes, the Anthropocene. His register of references is far-ranging. Among dozens of other topics, he discusses Shakespearean evocations of clouds, the origins of the “pathetic fallacy” in the writings of John Ruskin, and the world’s largest ball of paint, which can be found not far from Green’s home. There are fine moments throughout, as when the author writes appreciatively of Indianapolis as a place he loves “precisely because it isn’t easy to love” or when he ponders the social basis of genius, by which artists such as Michelangelo flourished because others were making advances in the study of human anatomy and Julius Caesar “became a dictator because…over time the empire’s soldiers felt more loyalty to their military leaders than to their civilian ones.” In a treat for die-hard fans, each copy from the first print run will be signed by the author. A grab bag, but one that repays reading and reflection and a pleasure throughout despite occasionally dark moments. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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