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A dip into the waters of our culture

I’ve been having an interesting run lately with narrative nonfiction ideas that speak to a larger cultural conversation. I recently sold a book about breastfeeding by Kimberly Seals Allers that began as an idea after my first daughter was born seven years ago called The Big Letdown: The True Story of How Politics, Feminism, and Big Business Changed Breastfeeding, and I’ve just begun working on another parenting book that will explore the topic of angry parenting that appears to be pervasive in our society.

Then I saw this piece in The New Yorker that talks about several new parenting books and looks at why American kids are so spoiled, and how other cultures parent arguably more successfully than we do. The projects I’ve been working on also speak to a dysfunctional parenting culture in America, and open up the conversation to talk about how we got here, and more importantly how we can improve our lives. A couple of years ago there was a stir caused by a New York Magazine piece by Jennifer Senior (which will be coming out as a book at some point) called “I Love My Kids, I Hate My Life” which delves deeper into this topic. The success of the Tiger Mom tapped into this issue as well, and proved there is a large audience for books that approach parenting from the right angle.

All of this got me to thinking about whether there are other areas of our culture outside of parenting that have not yet been dissected in book form – science, food, politics, pop culture, education, and the arts to name a few. I’m curious to hear from our readers if you have any ideas or topics that would warrant further discussion. Anything you’d like to see on the market that isn’t already out there that you would find interesting, or useful? Let us know. There are so many subjects, issues and ideas to ponder!

2 Responses to A dip into the waters of our culture

  1. I’ve yet to see a book approach our cultural view of science from exactly the perspective I want. I want something that approaches the topic of science education, and why it’s as poor as it is, in a medium longer than an article and from a more analytical than attacking standpoint. There are plenty of books on science vs. religion (or how the two can coexist), there are plenty of pop science books, but I haven’t yet found one with the approach I want to science education in this country and the ramifications on the future. (One may exist that I’ve just not found.)

  2. emily says:

    Wildlife, rainwater, natural lawns and gardening for wildscapes are really big topics in Texas. Given our drought-fire-flood climatic regime people living on the fringes of cities just need to know how to cope. Some friends compiled: Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (Noreen Damude and Kelly Conrad Bender, Texas Parks and Wildlife Press, 1999).

    Lawns are a laugh where I live in the Texas Hill Country between Austin and San Antonio. My home is in the unincorporated area of Hays County and my only one of my neighborhood yards has out-of-place St. Augustine grass [it more properly belongs in Houston where it rains and the humidity is high]. The grass was laid down, turf-square-by-turf-square several years ago and promptly died of some disease before the drought finished any hope of its recovery. Since our water comes from a small aquifer that sits on top of the famed Edwards Aquifer, drawing out ground water to sprinkle a foreign grass species is folly.

    A county-wide Rainwater Capture symposium, held in a VFW hall, drew more than 200 people several years ago. One big state agency even has an online guide to rainwater collection as well as estimates of the amount of water available per-square-foot of roof.

    My abode is surrounded with cedar trees, some died in last year’s drought, and even if I did cut down everything living or dead, fire would spread into the uncivilized cedar forest all around me.

    Surviving the Coming Warm Spell would be a good cultural issue. In my world, retired from an outdoor career in conservation [Texas Parks & Wildlife Department], water, wildlife, wildflowers and the urbanization of Texas have been hot topics for years.

    The reason Governor Perry did not hit the immigration issue when he was on the campaign trail for presidential nominee, is because Texas government has been aware of Hispanic demographics for eons. My Director of Communication, a Hispanic Woman from San Antonio, used to laugh about it, “We’re gaining on you!” was her mantra. In Texas, Republican or Democrat, everyone knows the truth of the matter. Instead of getting our panties in a wad, we just translate publications into Spanish.

    So, another cultural topic could be the Spanish-Anglo historic relations. For example, Cabeza de Vaca washed up on Galveston Island in about November, 1528 and spent eight years traversing southern Texas and northern Mexico. The Anglos settled the East, but the Spanish settled the Southwest and California. So get over it Iowa!

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