Nelson Algren sought humanity in the urban wilderness of postwar America, where his powerful voice rose from behind the billboards and down tin-can alleys, from among the marginalized and ignored, the outcasts and scapegoats, the punks and junkies, the whores and down-on-their luck gamblers, the punch-drunk boxers and skid-row drunkies and kids who knew they'd never reach the age of twenty-one: all of them admirable in Algren’s eyes for their vitality and no-b******t forthrightness, their insistence on living and their ability to find a laugh and a dream in the unlikeliest places.
In Entrapment and Other Writings—containing his unfinished novel and previously unpublished or uncollected stories, poems, and essays—Algren speaks to our time as few of his fellow great American writers of the 1940s and ’50s do, in part because he hasn’t yet been accepted and assimilated into the American literary canon despite that he is held up as a talismanic figure. "You should not read [Algren] if you can’t take a punch," Ernest Hemingway declared. "Mr. Algren can hit with both hands and move around and he will kill you if you are not awfully careful."
"Industrial civilization is incompatible with life.... Unless it's stopped... it will kill every living being," begin environmental activists Jensen (A Language Older than Words) and McBay (Peak Oil Survival), introducing the recurring theme and thesis of this radical report on the state of Earth and call to action. The book contrasts natural systems of growth and decay, in which soil and life forms feed each other, with "industrial civilization": "essentially a complicated way of turning land into waste": "garbage patches" cover more than 40% of oceans and multitudes of fish and birds are being killed by plastic waste, now more abundant in the seas than phytoplankton. Jensen and McBay trash "sustainability" stars like William McDonough, who designs "green" buildings without questioning their unsustainable uses (truck factories and airports); the authors argue that we value our culture more than the planet that sustains it. The book is flawed by lapses into rants and rages, but Jensen and McBay's message that we need to grow up and "put away the childish notion that we have the right to take whatever we want from nonhumans" is eminently reasonable.