|Coming later this month!|
All Over Creation is an ambitious but flawed book. Like My Year of Meats, it tells the story of farm families who are caught in the trap of choosing to grow genetically modified and other chemically altered crops or choosing less artificial ways to farm. The book is set on an Idaho potato farm in the late 1990s. At that time, many of these issues were really on people's minds, as they still are now.
As Ozeki's farmer-characters succeed and acquire more land, they are more and more pressured to purchase altered seeds and cuttings to fill their vast fields. In this book, the dilemma is: do they plant potatoes that have built-in insecticide? Or do they spray large amounts of commercial insecticides? Or can they find a better way entirely?
The characters tend to resemble the types of a morality play, with everyone designed to embody a message, even when they are individualized. A dying man, once a large-scale farmer, has been converted to the rightness of natural farming, and makes meaningful and poignant speeches about his belief. His wife, who came to Idaho as a Japanese war bride, grows and sells heirloom seeds, and talks to her plants with stereotyped Japanese insights. Their daughter, who ran away at age 14, has just returned to see them one more time, and is discovering her true identity. A group of protestors living in a trailer create theatrical events to call attention to the problems of pesticide and other evils in the food supply. Several articulate children play a role: I found the portrayal of these children especially annoying because they seemed to be too perfect in expressing the author’s message. Aging Flower Children, who had been idealist hippies during the sixties but have sold out their ideals, play a role in the many complications and dramas in the book.
I found it readable but contrived. Unfortunately, the issues raised in the book are worse than ever. I hope I like the new book better!
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