World Wide Work - 2016, no.1

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New and worth noting…

My Piece of the Pie. A French factory worker loses her job after stock market manipulation destroys the company. She takes a job as a cleaning woman for a man who turns out to be one of the people who makes millions by doing that kind of manipulating.What happens next is not what you might expect.
Where Do We Go Now? A creative fable tells the story of Christian and Muslim women in a Lebanese village who will go to any lengths to keep their respective menfolk from killing each other.
Trumbo. Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s leading screenwriter when he was among about 250 people blacklisted by the industry in the 1940s because of their leftist political beliefs (along with thousands of others in other lines of work). This feature film tells the dramatic story, while mixing in actual footage of key Hollywood and political figures from that time. The film succeeds in part because most of the key characters are shown with human strengths and weaknesses and not as stereotyped stick figures. It is particularly timely in our current era in which many politicians are generating a similar fear campaign against “Muslim terrorists.”
Spotlight. One of the best-made films in years focuses on the successful effort by the Boston Globe to expose the Catholic hierarchy’s continuing cover-up of widespread, systemic child abuse by many of its priests. The film shows how conspiracies of silence are maintained when those with information or suspicions are afraid to challenge people in power. The story calls into question the supposed moral authority of top church officials in leading opposition to same-sex marriage, women’s reproductive choice, death with dignity laws, and other basic human rights.
The Right to Unite. A 20-minute documentary narrated by Bradley Whitford tells the story of two home care workers whose right to form effective unions has been undermined by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2016 may go further to weaken the right of all public employees to unite for quality services and fair treatment. These cases are part of a pattern of rulings by what some now call the U.S. Corporate Court to favor corporate special interests and the top 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
This Changes Everything. More like a poem than an essay, this documentary based on Naomi Klein’s book shows people fighting against climate change in seven communities around the world. The theme is that averting climate disaster requires adopting a new economic system not dominated by big corporations and exploitation of the earth.
The Look of Silence. In this one-of-a-kind documentary, an Indonesian optometrist whose brother was called a communist and brutally executed by death squads encouraged by U.S. “aid” now visits the killers, decades later and at great personal risk, to seek apologies. The film is a sequel to The Act of Killing, the Academy Award-nominated documentary that featured the killers boasting about and reenacting the crimes for which they never were held accountable.
The True Cost. Much of the clothing we wear was produced under conditions that involve labor, human rights, and environmental abuses. The film argues for changes in the way we make, market, buy, and use our clothes. [Fixing Fashion, a book by Canadian activist Michael Lavergne (New Society), addresses the same subject.]

Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr (
Akashic). Four backpackers of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds set off into the Sierras in this unusual adventure thriller, only to find that the dangers of American society have followed them there.
Friendswood by Rene Steinke (
Riverhead). In this novel, a small town in Texas copes with the aftermath of a toxic chemical leak and the conflict between big money interests and public health.
Junction, Utah by Rebecca Lawton (
Wavegirl Books). An Oregon woman whose father never returned from the Vietnam War is working as a river guide in Utah when she falls in love with a local farmer and gets caught up in intrigue surrounding direct action opposition to oil drilling.
A Series of Small Maneuvers by Eliot Treichel (
Ooligan Press). A young-adults novel focuses on a 15-year-old girl whose teenage struggles are magnified when she feels responsible for a canoe accident that kills her father.
What Remains by Margaret Chula and Cathy Erickson (
Katsura Press). After researching the internment experience of U.S. families of Japanese heritage during World War II, a poet and quilter collaborated on beautiful written and visual images that work together to tell a human story.
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin (
Farrar Straus Giroux). Berlin’s 43 short stories draw heavily from her own interesting life in western mining towns, El Paso, Chile, New Mexico, and the Bay Area. She worked as a teacher, cleaning person, hospital clerk, switchboard operator, and more. She also writes about her battles with alcoholism, her sister’s cancer, and a troubled mother.
In the Country by Mia Alvar (
Knopf). Nine stories feature a wide range of Filipino characters in their home country, New York, and the Middle East. Class is often part of the background, as in the longest story about a journalist and a nurse caught up in labor strikes in Manila.
Jewish Noir edited by Kenneth Wishnia (
PM Press). Many of these stories have more depth than the typical mystery tale as they candidly explore a variety of aspects of the Jewish experience in the U.S.
Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh (
Farrar Straus Giroux). The third novel in a trilogy that began with Sea of Poppies continues to ramble through the great mixing of cultures and languages that took place in the 19 century when British, Indian, and Chinese capitalists competed for wealth and power involving the opium trade.
Understanding Jim Crow by David Pilgrim (
PM Press). A professor at Ferris State University created a museum with hundreds of racist advertisements, postcards, and other artifacts that document how white America has dehumanized African Americans over the years. The book shows some of those artifacts and explains their historical context.
Global Activism: Art and Conflict in the 21 Century edited by Peter Weibel (distributed by
MIT Press). A 736-page illustrated collection of essays shows how a variety of art forms are being used by activist movements all over the world.
A People’s Art History of the United States by Nicolas Lampert (
The New Press). A new paperback edition with more than 200 images makes more accessible this history of the role of art in grassroots movements throughout American history.
We Too Sing America by Deepa Iyer (
The New Press). An activist who came to the U.S. from India when she was 12 describes the injustices faced here since 9/11 by South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh people. She looks at hate crimes as well as governmental racism in the form of detentions, police profiling, surveillance, and more. She finds hope as young people connect with other movements like Black Lives Matter and the Dreamers.
Dreams Deported edited by Kent Wong and Nancy Guarneros (
UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education). A powerful book written by UCLA students tells about immigrant young people and their families who have built a movement resisting deportations and demanding real immigration reform.
We Are One by Elizabeth R. Gottlieb (
Hard Ball Press). 33 unionists tell personal stories that touch on what solidarity with others has meant to them and how they feel about their work. Occupations include miners, airline workers, people in the arts, a baseball player, factory workers, a teacher, and many more. A shorter version with 13 interviews is also available.
Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song by Ronnie Gilbert (
University of California). The late Gilbert’s memoir shares her experiences across decades filled with cultural change for American women. She was best known as a member of the Weavers, the singing group that helped popularize folk music in the U.S., and as a singing partner with Holly Near in her later years. She also spent years in experimental theater.
Right Out of California by Kathryn S. Olmsted (
The New Press). Many of the techniques used by the so-called conservative movement funded by big corporations and the 1% were jumpstarted by California agribusiness in the 1930s as a response to labor organizing and the New Deal.
American Apostles by Christine Leigh Heyrman (
Hill and Wang
). In the early 1800s, evangelical Christian missionaries went to the Middle East to convert Muslims, about whom they knew next to nothing. They discovered a well-developed religion that did not match the barbaric image they started with. Yet, when they came home they told exaggerated tales aimed at stirring up fear and prejudice.


Something More Than Free by Jason Isbell. Outstanding song writing, with restrained folk-country arrangements that let the poetry shine.
One Lost Day by
Indigo Girls. Some of their best storytelling in years.
Django and Jimmie by
Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. While their voices are hardly what they used to be, some of the songs are good, including one that says “we would've taken much better care of ourselves if we had known we would live this long.”
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