Patricia Reviews Adam’s Tongue by Derek Bickerton, Part One

As with most of the books I review that I like, this review runs on and runs wild. So I had to divide it in two. This is the first part.

This is a GREEN LANGUAGE post.

Adam's Tongue cover1

Title: Adam’s Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans
Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Genre: Non-fiction (mostly)
Year Published: 2009
Number of Pages: 286
ISBN10: 978-0-8090-1647=1
Price: $16.00

Every once in a while I see a write-up about a book in a newspaper or on a news site, and I get a hunch. Sometimes, I can barely figure out a thing about the book from the review, the writer snarls everything up so nicely. Or else she hypes sensational aspects of the text–soundbites of bad taste. Or she might have a sense that there’s something to the book but spends most of the article head-scratching. Yet, despite her loose grip on coherency, something shines through her writing like light around the edges of a closed door, and I think, I must have that book! Lightning of this sort struck when I learned of Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. That work proved an important addition to my admittedly stunted array of recent acquisitions. Likewise John D. Niles’ book Homo Narrans: The Poetry and Anthropology of Oral Literature. My hunches about these books proved spot on: Both contained rockin’ language that I didn’t know I’d been looking for ’til I found it.

This hunch-come-true happened when I stumbled on a review of Derek Bickerton’s Adam’s Tongue on a pop news site. From the article, I couldn’t make out a clear picture of the book’s inner workings, though the word “language” flashed up frequently during the discussion. The writer seemed preoccupied with Bickerton’s attitude, which he classified as “irreverent,” among other things. But shining around the edges of the writer’s opacity were shafts of light that struck my eye, which is always roving, rooting for new thinking on human language. I printed off the review and set it on the edge of my desk, where I looked at it again and again, studying, thinking, hungering. “I want this book,” I finally said to my husband. “Then you shall have it,” he replied and straightaway ordered it.

It didn’t disappoint. Like other recent classics exploring language evolution, Adam’s Tongue makes bold claims right off. Human language, Bickerton poses, is the greatest problem in science. “You don’t believe that?” he asks. Continue reading “Patricia Reviews Adam’s Tongue by Derek Bickerton, Part One”

Retro Review: Come Next Spring by Patricia

Movie poster Come Next Spring

In spite of how elements of this movie’s storyline deal with the troubling subjects of alcoholism and abandonment of family, Come Next Spring is a generous story with a quiet but strong heart.   Like many of these older films, rather than relying on in-your-face action sequences and special effects, loud soundtracks, and romantic drama that glues a box-office-compatible couple to center stage, Come Next Spring turns on resonant dialogue and actual, honest questions about family and community relations.   No glamor kings and queens in this movie.   Its “just folks” actors provide it with a low-key, slow-moving charm. Continue reading “Retro Review: Come Next Spring by Patricia”

WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon

Typhoon poster3

Today is WIZ’s third birthday, and we’re in the mood to give gifts to our loyal readers.   For its giveaways, WIZ chooses flicks that feature nature in some way.   Our featured movie this time: Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.

This movie comes from an age when Hollywood trotted out the tropics when it needed an idyllic backdrop to frame one of its golden-throated beauties. Because, you know, nothing makes nature look better than a sarong-clad peach.     Typhoon contains several formulaic parallels to The Jungle Princess (reviewed here on WIZ), the movie that launched Lamour’s acting career.   Typhoon is another eye-and-ear candy adventure-romance starring Dorothy Lamour and animal friends along with a young Robert Preston in a screenplay that features cutting-edge special effects for 1930s-era films (Typhoon was released in 1940). Continue reading “WIZ’s Birthday Retro Review: Typhoon”

WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: South of Pago Pago

South of Pago Pago cover art

Yep, this review probably contains spoilers.   Also, because its themes address directly environmental issues, I’ve given it a more thorough critical treatment than I gave The Charge at Feather River. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read it.   Finally, this movie contains intense battle scenes and a frightening pirate villain, either of which might be unsuitable fare for sensitive minds, be they adult minds or juvenile.

The beauty, intensity, and flair of this 1940 action-adventure flick caught me by surprise.   After watching the Dorothy Lamour vehicle, The Jungle Princess, I expected a tropical paradise movie of similar ilk. Geographically displaced animals.   Childlike but sexually forward leading men or women.   Backward natives who are slaves to superstition. Lots and lots of giant ferns.   I anticipated cartoon villains and expected that the water beneath their pearl-scooping pirate ship would have more depth than the ship’s crew. Continue reading “WIZ Retro Review and giveaway: South of Pago Pago”