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The World Without Us (and maybe just a tiny bit more Persuasion)

January 17, 2008

I told you non-fic and I are close. :) For my first read in the Planet Earth 2008 Challenge, I chose Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us. Why? Because so many bloggers seemed to really enjoy it! But can I now find any of these awesome reviews to direct you towards? Of course not. *sigh* If you mentioned The World Without Us, please leave me a link in the comments and I’ll add you in.

Because, honestly, I’m really not sure how to approach this one. First off, I really enjoyed it. It’s much more than just Planet Earth 2008Weisman imagining a future earth sans humans. He delves into various current environmental problems, both obvious (nuclear stuff) and more obscure (you wouldn’t believe how many birds die due to glass in America every year). He looks at the ancient past, especially the spread of homo sapiens, homo sapiens’ evolution, and a bit of the most recent ice ages (this part heavily reminded me of the early section of Guns, Germs, and Steel-in fact, it felt like I’d already read it). He looks at possible futures. And then in the very end, when you’re lulled into complacency, he suggests his own solution to environmental problems: women should just have one child each. That right there helped drop the book to four stars instead of five; throughout, he’d been going into a bunch of detail and looking at more than one side of each issue. But all of sudden, instead of really thinking about how enormously complicated such a decision/policy would be, just throws out a graph and then says that if only we stop having babies, we’ll be able to listen to songbirds again. It’s not that I’m philosophically opposed to such an idea; it’s just that he didn’t give enough space or thought for it to be included in the book. Where was his editor?

That quibble aside, the book is an enjoyable adventure throughout all different spheres of Earth and human life. You’ll find out everything from how long New York’s subways could last without us to the power of forests to regenerate. Weisman’s style is down-to-earth and informative; not anything to write home about, but it certainly gets the job done. I think this was a great way to start the challenge off-it provided a combination overview with very specific that was laced throughout with a deep wonder for this planet we live on.

BTW, those of you who want to see the new Persuasion adaptation, but missed it, can watch the whole thing on YouTube in ten parts (part one). And, I found the 1995 version on there in 17 parts, albeit with Spanish subtitles (part one). For those of you aren’t worried about ‘spoilers’ (I mean, it’s Jane Austen, is the ending ever really in question?), here’s my favourite scene from the earlier movie:

And, just for fun, the same part in the new version…complete with the most awkard kiss I’ve ever seen:

17 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2008 10:45 am

    OK, the kiss is laughable! It looks as if she is going to bite his face or something. Too weird!

  2. January 18, 2008 2:12 pm

    Oh, I had completely managed to block that kiss out, but I remember it now! One of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever seen on television.

    Not going to re-watch it on Youtube, if you don’t mind. Once was quite enough! ;)

  3. January 18, 2008 2:19 pm

    Stephanie, isn’t it weird?! And it takes soooo long for her to get up to his mouth…I mean, standing on tip-toes isn’t that confusing. ;)

    Love, hehe-I rewatched it after embedding it and then regreted it. Good think Wentworth was a hottie!

  4. January 18, 2008 4:43 pm

    The 1995 BBC film is my favourite Austen adaptation; it’s so beautiful that, for me, it’s the only time that the original Austen doesn’t quite live up to the TV (that’s probably heresy, I know). In the nineties I used to watch it whenever I was ill and had a day off work and it made me feel better. Not so sure about the new version.

  5. January 18, 2008 6:32 pm

    Yikes. Not sure if the director, editor, or actor is to blame for that one.

  6. January 18, 2008 6:58 pm

    It seems like everywhere in the book blogs people are talking about Anne’s crazy run. Was it really that insane? How wild is it? Okay, I tried to read Persuasion a few months ago, but I wasn’t in an Austen mood so I abandoned it….did she run a marathon in the book?

  7. January 18, 2008 8:56 pm

    LMAO! OK OK OK, the kiss made my butt pucker. Seriously, it was the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

    As for The World Without Us, I would’ve dropped it a point or three after the 1 kid thing. What an awkward point to include, it seems, in what sounds like an otherwise interesting book. Weird. Very weird. I’ll probably still give it a go, but I’m glad you mentioned that bit so my jaw doesn’t hit the floor and bruise my chin.

  8. January 19, 2008 7:11 am

    All right, this book is going on my TBR list. (If I’d been the editor, I would have asked him to “please expand” on the one-child theory).

  9. January 19, 2008 7:41 am

    Oh, yes, that kiss is very awkward! I must have blocked it from my mind when I watched the show.

    The Weisman book sounds fascinating. His “one child” theory may be sound (in theory!) but certainly hard to implement. All one need do is think of China, and their similar policy. Egad!

  10. January 19, 2008 6:49 pm

    Oh my, that was awful! Seeing the spittle in the corner of her mouth was none too attractive, either!

  11. January 20, 2008 7:30 pm

    Eloise, I’m rereading the book right now, but I can see how it’s going to be difficult to live up to that movie!

    Kim, I don’t know either. But, ultimately, I’m tempted to blame the actor-does she really kiss like that?!

    TY, she runs a bunch, through a lot of crowded places, and she’s obviously very distraught, and the camera’s jiggling the whole time, so it felt like a long time.

    Andi, OMG-your phrase had be almost falling out my chair! The 1 kid thing comes at the very, very end in what’s basically the epilogue, so at least it didn’t affect most of the book.

    Emily, you should have been his editor then. ;)

    Becca, I don’t know how you could block that from your mind! I have a bunch of respect for your brain, lol. Yeah-the 1 child thing isn’t a big part of the book at all, but all I could think of was China as well. Maybe rich aliens would start coming to Earth to adopt our unwanted children. hehe

    Lesley, wasn’t it?! And her teeth are pretty painful as well. Maybe Wentworth had his eyes closed. ;)

  12. January 21, 2008 10:55 am

    Sigh. Oh, Eva, I just can’t keep up with you – you write such great reviews. Anyhow…I have this book and am planning to read it soon. Interesting about his thoughts on only having one child – as I do – I’ll be looking for that. Your book stacks look great, and I agree that the end of Persuasion is really, really silly, all that running around and a kiss on the street!

  13. January 21, 2008 7:45 pm

    Tara, that’s so sweet! Are you planning on having just one child? Is it because of the environment? (if that seemed too nosy, just ignore it)

  14. January 23, 2008 8:26 am

    We are happy with our family as it is – with one child – even though we originally thought we’d have another – and it’s not because of the environment!

  15. January 24, 2008 2:50 pm

    I didn’t make it through The World Without Us for whatever reason…and it’s kind of funny considering you mention the one child thing! LOL I have a large family and one of my common rants is that we’re a lot more earth-friendly than families w/ 1 kid. But that’s us and the way we’re committed to living and I understand that we’re the real exception to the rule as far as large families go. (Case in point: My neighbor has 8 children. We have 7 with one on the way. On garbage day, they put out 4 HUGE garbage bins every week and we put out 1 every other week or so,sometimes only 1 per month. I cringe every week when I see it! :P )

    And oh my goodness…that kiss was painful to watch! Eek!

  16. January 25, 2008 6:02 pm

    Okay, the World without Us…wanted to love it, was FASCINATED by the first chapter on NYC and the subways getting the water pumped out of them–and then pretty promptly got bored. Sorry I don’t have a raving review for you to link to!

    Oh, the Persuasion comparisons. The 1995’s a way better adaptation, complete with Austen’s humor (which has been completely lost in the new versions of Persuasion and P and P), but boy, I just can’t complain about that Rupert Penry-Jones. That boy is, and this is a direct quote from the director of Persuasion, “sex on legs.”

    Totally awkward kiss, though, you’re right about that.

  17. January 25, 2008 6:50 pm

    Tara, you know that you really made that decision because Weisman told you to! :P

    Rebecca, wow-it must be so much fun to have that big of a family! I’m a little young now, but I’d like to have five kids eventually. You make a really good point about earth-friendliness: it really is a lifestyle committment. And I’m impressed with how little garbage you have! I’d like to be like that when I live on my own.

    Nonanon, hehe-I enjoyed it more, but I loved Guns, Germs, and Steel so that probably primed the pump. And Rupert Perry-Jones was definitely awesome! lol @ the sex on legs thing.

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