If you were thinking of reading Manny Howard’s book “My Empire of Dirt,” I strongly recommend against this course of action for two reasons:
1. Howard writes like he’s being paid by the dependent clause, with headache-inducing sentences like:
“The lower reaches of the East River have teemed with traffic since the earliest Dutch settlements in the 1670s, and I spent most of my childhood living up on the bluffs above Old Fulton Street, the site where, in 1814, Robert Fulton inaugurated regular steamboat-ferry service between Brooklyn and Manhattan and made Brooklyn boom.”
Here’s another whopper, chosen at random:
“Still, I don’t know if I side with the locavore, or his critic, who claims that the titans of agriculture have it right, that massive quantities of food packed inside cargo containers hauled aboard enormous trains (which advocates say carry unimaginably heavy loads 435 on one gallon of gasoline) and in the holds of oceangoing ships are much less wasteful in the long run than weekly – nay, daily – parades of local artisanal producers trundling off to greenmarkets in beater cargo vans or late-model Subaru station wagons to sell their certifiably wholesome foodstuffs to eager urbanites, holed up, isolated, and ignorant, without the means or practical skills necessary to grow their own food.”
2. Howard has no business owning animals.
He has no interest in animals, no empathy for them, no aptitude for their care, and no inclination to research their needs. He is one of those people who think of animals as animate objects, like toys whose batteries don’t need changing.
I stopped reading after “the songbird debacle,” when he bought a dozen songbirds for his two year-old daughter on a whim, neglected them for a week (in which nine of them died), and killed the remaining three in a drunken rage (one with his bare hands). Yes, really.