Wisconsin State Journal from Madison, Wisconsin on September 3, 2000 · 47
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Wisconsin State Journal from Madison, Wisconsin · 47

Madison, Wisconsin
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 3, 2000
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Sunday, September 3, 2000 Wisconsin State Journal Books Editor: William R. Wineke, (608) 252-6146 BEST SELLERS BOOK CORNER FICTION 1. Winter Solstice byRosa-munde Pilcher: As Christmas approaches, five lost souls in the north of Scotland discover the healing power of love. (Weeks on list: 3) 2. Dust to Dust by Tami Hoag: Two Minneapolis police officers investigate the suspicious death of an Internal Affairs officer. (3) 3. The House on Hope Street by Danielle Steel: A woman with five children must cope with the loss of her husband, who dies on Christmas Day. 4. Stalker by Faye Kellerman: While Peter Decker of the LAPD is distracted by a string of brutal carjackings, someone is terrorizing his daughter, a rookie on the force. (2) 5. Not a Day Goes By by E. Lynn Harris: The tumultuous romance between a football player turned sports agent and an up-and-coming Broadway star. (5) 6. Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke: Dave Robicheaux, a Louisiana sheriffs deputy, searches for his mother's killers. (3) 7. Omerta by Mario Puzo: An FBI agent targets a recently retired Mafia don who has tried to shield his three grown children from the family business. (7) 8. Mr. Perfect by Linda How- ard: After four women compile a list of the attributes an ideal man would possess, one of them is murdered. (4) NONACTION 1. It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins: A memoir by the Tour de France champion and cancer survivor. (13) 2. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom: A sportswriter tells of his visits to his old college mentor, who was near death. (150) 3. Life on the Other Side by Sylvia Browne with Lindsay Harrison: A guided tour of the afterlife, by a "working psychic." (5) 4. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: A collection of autobiographical comic essays by the author of "Naked." (14) 5. Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers: The story of the Marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, by the son of one of the men. (16) 6. American Rhapsody by Joe Eszterhas: The Clinton scandal as seen by the man who wrote "Basic . Instinct" and "Showgirls." (5) 7. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick: The story of the whale ship Essex, whose disastrous fate in the early 19th century would later serve as inspiration for Herman Melville. (15) 8. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson: The author of "A Walk in the Woods" reports on his travels through Australia. (11) New York Times The University Book Store welcomes David Guterson UW-Madison Chancellor's Convocation Kohl Center Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. The author of Snow; Falling on Cedars and East of The Mountains will sign copies of his books after his convocation address. The event is free and open to students, faculty, staff, and the general public. the univepsity Book storg Serving Madison and the UW since 1894. THE MYSTERY (vj READER'S PARADISE B06(ED MURDER OUT OF PRINT & COLLECTIBLE MYSTERIES SHELVES, FURNITURE ;& FIXTURES FOR SALE Sun. & Mon. 12-5, Tue. & Thur. 11-7, Wed. & Fri. 11-6, Sat 10-5 2701 University Avenue Madison, Wl 53705 (608)238-2701 "Nothing Like It in the World" jacket illustration courtesy of Union Pacific Historical Collection Empire Ambrose praises American ingenuity behind transcontinental railroad. By William R. Wineke Wisconsin State Journal Before the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 a person wanting to travel from New York to California could expect a journey that took months and that cost more than $1,000. A week after the "Golden Spike" was pounded into a rail in Promontory Point, Utah, a person could travel from New York to California in seven days at a cost ranging from $70 to $150. The railroad, along with the telegraph lines that ran alongside its tracks, says historian Stephen Ambrose, "made modern America possible." Among the changes: "Things that could not be imagined before the civil War now became common. A nationwide stock market, for example. A continent-wide economy in which people, agricultural products, coal and minerals moved wherever someone wanted to send them and did so cheaply and quickly. A continent-wide culture in which mail and popular magazines and books that used to cost dollars per ounce and had taken forever to get from the East to the West Coast, now cost pennies and got there in a few days. Entertainers could move from, one city to another in a matter of hours." Ambrose tells the story of the railroad in "Nothing Like It In the World: the Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869" (Simon & Schuster: $28). The book is classic Ambrose, filled with details that make big pictures emerge from small facts. "Except for Salt Lake City, there were no white settlements through which the lines were built. No white men lived in Nebraska west of Omaha, or in Wyoming, Utah or Nevada. There was no market awaiting the coming of the train or any product to haul back east except the Mormon city, which was a long way away until the tracks met "There were problems with Indians for the Union Pacific, Indians who had not been asked or consented or paid for the use of what they regarded as their lands. For the Central Pacific, there was the problem of digging tunnels through mountains made of granite. That these tunnels were attempted, then dug, was a mark of American audacity and hubris." The railroad could not have been completed had it not been for the Civil War, Ambrose contends. It was the war that gave dozens of American leaders the experience in organizing and leading groups of men in a common task. Nor, obviously, could the railroad have been built without workers: "The transcontinental railroad was the last great building project to be done mostly by hand. The dirt excavated for cuts through ridges was removed one handheld cart at a time. The dirt for filling a dip or gorge in the ground was brought in by handcart. Some of the fills were enormous, hundreds of feet high and a quarter mile or more in length." In the end, Ambrose asserts, the railroad could not have been built without Americans, who felt they could master anything. "No problem. Not mountains, not deserts, not Indians, not finances or swindlers, not distance, not high interest rates or a scarcity of labor, not politicians whether venal or stupid, not even a civil war or its aftermath. Americans were a people such as the world had never before known. No one before them, no matter where or how they lived, had had such optimism or determination. It was thanks to those two qualities that the Americans set out to build what had never been done before." FOOTNOTES Make your money count give it to needy What's the value of a dollar? Professor Kent Koppelman, who teaches ethics at the UW-LaCrosse, says most of us don't have a clue. We tend to think a dollar can be valued most for what it purchases, a car, a house, a retirement program. But those values are secondary to what money really can do; invested in people who need help, a dollar can be a transforming agent, Koppelman says in "Values in the Key of Life: Making Harmony in the Human Community" (Baywood Publishing Co.,Amityville,N.Y.). "The most profound value of a dollar is in its power to redeem a human being," Koppelman writes. To be sure, he adds, some money invested in others will be wasted. Giving money is similar to making a bet and, "even when you win, your reward is likely to be emotional or spiritual rather than financial You may see someone succeed and take pleasure in knowing you made it happen." However, money invested materially can never really match the value of money invested in others, Koppelman asserts. "It is not the outcome that gives the dollar its value, it is the giving. The decision to gamble on a human life is what is important The value of a dollar can be realized in large houses, luxury cars and expensive What they're reading George Nelson, broadcast executive and civic leader: Be-. lieve it or not I've got a copy of "Martha Stewart's New Old House." My wife, Judith, and I are hoping to build a new home and she got the book free when she bought something else at the University Book Store a week ago. jewelry, and this is the most common value it is given. The value of a dollar can also be expressed in terms of how it has nurtured human life and made it whole. WThen we affirm the redemptive value of a dollar, we pay it the greatest respect and assign it the highest value." Don't miss Novelist David Guterson, author of "East of the Mountains" (Har-court: $14), will speak at 7 p.m. Tues-' day at the UW-Madison Chancellor's Convocation at the Kohl Center. The event is free and is open to the general public. William R. Wineke Farmer's Almanac predicts mild winter Greenhouse gases and global climate changes do not jmpress publishers of the Farmers' Almanac. After 184 years, they have no plans to alter the almanac's weather forecasting formula, which is based on sunspots, the position of the planets and tidal action caused by the moon. Using the formula, known to only two people, the almanac predicts another moderate winter as a follow-up to last year's warmest winter on record. "The winter of 2000-01 should get off to a late start and turn out to be milder than average, even less severe than this last one," forecaster Caleb Weatherbee writes in the almanac, published last week. "Many people have asked us if we plan to alter the 'secret formula' used for producing our annual weather forecasts. The answer is an unequivocal 'no,' " Weatherbee writes in this year's almanac. For the record, Weatherbee predicts a wet fall to be followed by two big December snowstorms, including one reaching as far south as Virginia. He also predicts significant snow in the Rockies and in the Midwest and Great Lakes states in December. Associated Press f POTION CAPPERS WtittrskMhl ,1 FICTION A fable for adults On the Map of Woeful Places, the village of Frip would be a dot on the road that runs from Drudgery to Despond, three tiny shacks with three tiny goat yards wedged between the sea and a swamp. As the setting for George Saunders' riveting, funny and sly new fairy tale for adults, "The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip" (Villard: $23.95), it is an eerie, discomfiting place, thrumming with bustle and discontent. Frip is home to nine people, 30 goats and, most notably, to 1,500 bright orange crea- . tures known as gappers. Prickly as hedgehogs and about the size of baseballs, gappers have multiple eyes, an odd belly-squishing method of locomotion and an irritating obsession with the village's goats. "When a gapper gets near a goat," Saunders reports, "it gives off a continual high-pitched happy shriek of ". pleasure that makes it impossible for the goat to sleep, and the goats get skinny and stop giving milk. . And in towns that survive by selling goat milk, if there's no goat milk, there's no money, and if there's '. no money, there's no food or housing or clothing, arid so, in gapper-infested towns, since nobody liked the idea of starving naked outdoors, it is necessary at alL costs to keep the gappers off the goats." '.; In Frip, this chore is delegated to the children, who eight times a day must interrupt whatever they'; are doing arguing, practicing their music lessons, even sleeping to brush off the gappers, stuff them ! into sacks, haul them over to the cliffs and dump .'V them into the sea. As soon as the gappers sink to th bottom, they scrinch and scrunch and scrinch back , toward shore and head for the goats again. - Eventually the smartest or, more accurately, the least stupid gapper wonders why he and his com-; rades waste so much time and energy dividing themselves among Frip's three goat yards, when they all , could more conveniently converge on just one, the ?; one nearest the sea. When this brainstorm sets in motion a chain reaction that tests the villagers' hearts and gumption in thrillingly peculiar ways, Saunders spins his story ''. into a sharp little fable about resourcefulness and cooperation, prejudice and blame. Even if you do not live in Frip, it is well to remenv ber that just because a lot of people say the same ' . thing loudly over and over it does not make it true, that it is not fun to eat a big dinner in a warm house while others shiver in the dark and that we can accomplish almost anything once we learn what it takes to be Capable. ; ; Margaret Fichtner, The Miami Herald i N0NFICTI0N v- Building a better way for the future Architecture, says author and designer James Wines, "is one of the most dependable reflections of a civilization's philosophical foundations." Therefore, he concludes in "Green Architecture" (Taschen: $24.99), architecture will play a key role in how the world s peoples adapt to a changing ecology. "The mission now in architecture, as in all human en- deavor, is to recover those fragile threads of connected-; ness with nature that have been lost for most of this century. "The key to a truly sustain-able art of architecture for the new millennium will depend on the creation of bridges that unite conservation technology with an earth-centric ; philosophy and the capacity of designers to transform these integrated forces into a new visual language." In order to do that, Wines suggests, we have to look forward to the past and, in this case, the past can" be found in nearby Spring Green, Wis. Much of 20th century architecture was marked by "modern" design that featured an "antiseptic industrial appearance of buildings and absence of such distracting amenities as landscape " The dissenting voice belonged to Spring Green's , Frank Lloyd Wright, whom Wines says was "a prophet of the entire environmental movement as far back as 1910. long before the word 'ecology' was even in common use." Unfortunately, "for reasons that can only be ex- . plained by the fickleness and superficiality of stylistic vogue, Wright's ideas fell out of favor when Modern- ism gained its ascendancy." Wright's crusade for organic architecture "got buried under the quick and easy cubes, cones, spheres and nine-square grids of academic design and the indifference of the architectural profession to environmental alarm signals." , ; Nevertheless, Wines who is dean of the faculty of architecture at Penn State University continues, some architects have continued to try to bridge the gap between building and nature. The book is illustrated in full color and, while the text tends to be a little tedious, is an interesting exploration of how we might live and of how we ought to live in harmony with nature. William R. Wineke NONFICTION Series offers history in a nutshell The Modern Library Chronicles has launched a new series of short histories written by prominent' historians and aimed at the general reader. The first two titles are "Islam" by Karen Armstrong and "The Renaissance" by Paul Johnson. "Islam" offers a concise summary of many years of " thinking and writing about the religion. "The Renaissance'!, provides a definition of the -term, and a cultural and historical view of the period. Forthcoming books in the series will be published in . pairs, four times a year. Subjects of the next two. due in November, are the German Empire from 1870-1918 and the Balkans. Each compact, hardcover volume has about 200 pages and retails for $19.95. Associated Press I 'tTi I UA M ... 0

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