This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.
The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.
Ox-Tales Earth – Various Authors
GreenProfile, Profile Books, 2009
When Eco-Libris approached me to take part in the Green Books Campaign I was very excited to see the Ox-Tales titles on the list. You see, I had seen the books (or at least the titles Earth and Fire) in the bookshop I regularly visit in my hometown. I had stared at them, held them in my hand regularly, always putting them back on the shelves just before I went out. But I have been curious about them all this time.. It was hard picking one of the titles, but in the end I opted for Earth (there’s also Fire, Water and Air) because there were stories by many stories by authors in there that I have wanted to give a try for a long time.
The Ox-Tales books offer a selection of short stories from “remarkable writers” and each of them features a poem by Vikram Seth. The books are printed on FSC-certified “mixed sources” paper (in the spirit of the green books campaign). All royalties from the books go to Oxfam, which is what made me first look at these books in the shops.
There are lots of “big authors” featured in Earth: Hanif Kureishi, Jonathan Coe, Kate Atkinson, Ian Rankin, Marina Lewycka, Nicholas Shakespeare, Marti Lembach, Jonathan Buckley and Rose Tremain. And I have to admit that I enjoyed reading most of the stories. The short 200 words story by Ian Rankin didn’t do much for me, but that might have been because I never really like books or stories from his genre.
There are a few stories that stood out for me. First, the story by Rose Tremain about a Russian stationmaster of a small stop, who suddenly find a dying Leo Tolstoy on his doorstep. I know next to nothing about literary lives, but while reading it the truth of the story did not really matter to me. The writing was remarkable and well.. I love literary references. I know many of you like Rose Tremain and I guess I should have listened to you sooner, I definitely want to give her novels a try now.
I was very curious about the story by Hanif Kureishi, having heard the name so many times. To me, the magical feel to the story did not work as well as I suspect it might have worked in a longer story, but I did still enjoy reading about the meeting between a man and his long-dead father and mother, observing their relationship from the perspective of an older, more mature, child.
The Importance of Warm Feet by Marina Lewycka will also long be remembered by me. Doesn’t that title just make you smile of its own accord? The personal back-story of that statement left an even longer impression of me. I love it when an author makes herself vulnerable by telling a personal life story. At least, that is what Lewycka seems to do in this story, I do not of course know for sure that the story is based on that.
Having read Earth, I look forward to reading the other Ox-Tales books. And I look forward to having all of them on my shelves. There’s something special about being able to say that you have stories about the 4 elements on your bookshelves. Or at least, it makes a good excuse to buy some more books ;-).