Living on the earth

Illustrated

Published by Gibbs Smith
ISBN 10: 0870447351 / ISBN 13: 9780870447358
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Synopsis: The thirtieth anniversary edition of Living On The Earth maintains the innocence, lyricism and whimsy of the original, enriched with current information on sustainable technology and protection of the environment. At once a practical manual of recipes and directions for creating from scratch all of life's basic amenities and some of its frivolities, an influential artist book with an instantly identifiable style, an insider's view of the Utopian commune movement of the early seventies, and a spiritually uplifting lifestyle book, Living On The Earth continues as a beloved addition to our bookshelves.

Review:

When we depend less on industrially produced consumer goods, we can live in quiet places. Our bodies become vigorous; we discover the serenity of living with the rhythms of the earth. We cease oppressing one another.

Oppression hasn't quite disappeared in the 30 years since Alicia Bay Laurel wrote these words, but, thanks to the enduring legacy of the back-to-the-land movement and the possibilities of telecommuting alike, more and more people are living in the "quiet places" Laurel celebrates. Living on the Earth was a well-worn (and bestselling) bible for the urban hipsters who fled the city and took up such pursuits as organic farming and leather tanning in the early 1970s; its author, a musician and artist who now makes her home in Hawaii, made their acclimation to country life just a little bit easier with her user-friendly instructions on such matters as how to keep gophers from invading the veggie patch and how to get rid of those nasty lice that once served as the mascots of bohemian existence.

Lice or no, the countryside still has its undeniable charms. The reissue of Laurel's handwritten, simply illustrated manual will appeal to anyone contemplating a new life beyond the city--or merely seeking pointers on how to simplify daily life. Things have changed, of course, since Laurel first self-published her zeitgeist-drenched book in 1970. Where the original edition had seed-to-bud instructions for growing marijuana, the reissue now comes with a modest disclaimer in which Laurel admits to having lost her taste for the stuff decades ago--but it also comes with a ringing endorsement for the use of hemp fiber and paper as a planet-friendly measure of economy. Laurel also juxtaposes her folk remedies for common ailments with a friendly reminder to head to the doctor if the pain is really bad, the kind of advice once shunned by the proudly self-sufficient barefoot medics, manuals in hand. Still, though updated here and there, Living on the Earth retains its recipes for everything from making Moroccan djellabas to molding scented candles to delivering a baby in the privacy of one's tipi, all good things to know.

More than a blast from the past--although it certainly is that--Laurel's book is still highly useful. And it's just plain fun. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Living on the earth
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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