First, in the Saturday Review of The Martian, Louise Fabiani exposes strengths and weaknesses of Ridley Scott’s film. It is “exquisite” in a visual sense, but the protagonist, played by Matt Damon, seems to lack an essential humanity. Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig round out an impressive cast. However, “the entire production champions frontier-spirit white-maleness” in its macho attitude toward botany and sciences oriented toward the human mind.
Then, in a review of Valley Fever, Becky Peterson looks at Julia Bloch’s second collection, which treats rivers and tributaries as a literal and metaphorical subject. California’s central valley serves as the setting of this “important” and subtle book that offers a “mix of humor and hopelessness in the face of environmental destruction.”
Finally, in the Sunday Essay, Toni Nealie muses on the intimate satisfaction that comes from cooking for her family and “all the joys of fresh food: herby and smelling of dirt and cut grass.” The hidden dangers, however, of e. coli and other tainted produce lurks in the back of Nealie’s mind. Spinach becomes the focus of her anxieties. She writes:
While I was afraid of possible pathogens, the boys were suspicious of undisguised vegetables in plain sight.