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Short Takes for May 2016 

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HOW TO SURVIVE THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION AND OTHER HELPFUL HINTS!

a guide by Sparrow

The Operating System, 2016, $18

Phoenicia's reigning avian-appellated micropoet, bumper sticker maven, and erstwhile Chronogram columnist pens a survivalist manifesto like no other. Compact as tater tots, and less greasy, Sparrow's aphorisms, one-word poems, and Fake Wisdom should see you through the End Times in fine fettle. Among his advice: HIDE MONEY IN PUBLIC PLACES. CELEBRATE THE DEATH OF OBJECTS. MILK A FERRET. Book party 5/21 at 6:30pm, The Golden Notebook, Woodstock.

JUNK: DIGGING THROUGH AMERICA'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH STUFF

Alison Stewart

Chicago Review Press, 2016, $26.99

Every household has a place where odds and ends accumulate, whether it's a catchall kitchen drawer or floor-to-ceiling stacks. For award-winning TV journalist and Woodstock weekender Alison Stewart, the no-toss zone was her late parents' basement. When she and her sister spent eight months on an epic cleanout, she put on her reporter hat and started asking questions. Lively, well-researched, and wincingly relatable, Junk is a jaunty ride through our national trash habit.

A TASTE FOR BROWN BODIES: GAY MODERNITY AND COSMOPOLITAN DESIRE

Hiram Perez

New York University Press, 2016, $25

Just nominated for a Lambda Award, Vassar professor Perez examines the complex intersection of race and queer studies. Tracing the homoerotic archetypes of sailor, cowboy, and soldier, he offers close readings of Billy Budd and Brokeback Mountain and uses James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man to parse images from Abu Ghraib, prodding readers toward a deeper, sometimes uncomfortable understanding of cultural context, colonialism, and complicity.

NATIVE AMERICAN ALMANAC: MORE THAN 50,000 YEARS OF THE CULTURES AND HISTORIES OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder, and Shannon Rothenberger Flynn

Visible Ink Press, 2016, $24.95

The subtitle suggests the inclusive scope of this magisterial volume, co-edited by part-Chippewa Ulster County resident and TMI storyteller Flynn. Leading off with a "Historical Overview of Indian-White Relations in the United States," its 600-plus pages are divided by region, each including a historical overview, tribal and linguistic maps, and brief biographies. Essential history of our First Peoples. Appearing 5/20 at 7pm, Inquiring Minds New Paltz; 5/21 at 3pm, Inquiring Minds Saugerties.

PETER ARNO: THE MAD, MAD WORLD OF THE NEW YORKER'S GREATEST CARTOONIST

Michael Maslin

Regan Arts, 2016, $26.95

Rhinebeck resident and longtime New Yorker cartoonist Maslin pays homage to the founding father of the classic New Yorker cartoon. A larger-than-life bon vivant, Arno brought his signature visual flair and gin-dry humor to a flailing young magazine. "For 43 years, from 1925 to 1968, Arno's art was as essential to The New Yorker as the Empire State Building is to the New York skyline," Maslin writes. His lavish biography is filled with photos and (of course) Arno cartoons.

GREENING DEATH: RECLAIMING BURIAL PRACTICES AND RESTORING OUR TIE TO THE EARTH

Suzanne Kelly

Rowan & Littlefield, 2015, $34

The more you examine "traditional" American burial practices, the stranger they seem. Why do we pump bodies full of toxic embalming fluids and bury millions of board feet of lumber and tons of metal in cemeteries? One hundred and fifty years ago, nobody did. Kelly traces the rise of a $15 billion industry from the Civil War to the present, debunks myths about contamination, and advocates for greener alternatives that "restore the possibility of restoring our relationship to the land." Amen.

  • Nonfiction books by Hudson Valley authors take on topics great and small.

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