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Friday roundup: Five things to pay attention to this week

10.6. 2017 Posted By: Gordon Houser 164 Times read
  1. Walking in nature. Last week, Jeanne and were on vacation. We drove to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois and hiked for two days in its beautiful woods. The park is known for its waterfalls; however, because of drought—no rain in the past two months—all the waterfalls were dried up. That did allow us, though, to walk all the way into the stunning canyons and observe the rock formations. Walking in nature reminds me of my smallness (see photo) and refreshes my soul.
  2. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is a novel recommended by our office’s antiracism team for us to read and discuss in October. Jeanne and I listened to the audiobook on our drive to Illinois. The book doesn’t succeed as good fiction because it is overly didactic. But it does dramatize issues of racism, and I’d recommend it as a good book for a group to read and discuss.
  3. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann is a finalist for the National Book Award for nonfiction. It’s the best nonfiction book I’ve read this year. Thoroughly researched, it recounts the horrific string of murders of Osage people in Oklahoma in the 1920s in order to obtain their rights to land where oil was found. Here is a well-written account of racism and greed run amok, an account largely unknown. Our history teachers should assign it to their students.
  4. Wind River, directed by Taylor Sheridan, is a thriller set on an American Indian reservation in Wyoming. Inspired by the many Native girls who have gone missing and not been found, the film is particularly sensitive to portraying Native culture in realistic ways. Sheridan, whose Hell or High Water was on my top 10 list last year, insisted that Native characters be portrayed by Native actors. It contains some violent scenes, but it is a good film.
  5. The Salesman, directed by Asghar Farhadi, won last year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and is available on Netflix. A young couple in Tehran, Iran, move to an apartment, unaware that the previous tenant was a prostitute. When the wife suffers an attack, due in part to mistaken identity, the husband seeks to find the man who did it and seek revenge. While tension grows between husband and wife, they are acting as husband and wife in a production of Death of a Salesman. The ending seems abrupt but leaves you questioning any value to revenge. It’s excellent, but Farhadi’s earlier film, A Separation, is even better.

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