Excerpt from Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Small Wonder

By Barbara Kingsolver

Small Wonder
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Apr 2002,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2003,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


If I got to make just one law, it would be that the men who make the decisions to drop bombs would first, every time, have to spend one whole day taking care of a baby. We were not made to do this killing thing, I swear. Back up. It's a big mistake.



The public is invited to think what it pleases, but to call me naïve would be flat-out wrong. I have lived in a lot of different countries. So many, in fact, that now on some occasions when I'm asked here to vote yes or no, I want to color outside the lines. I turn over the referendum to look on the back for option 3: "RESOLVED to live with a little less so we can all share in the safety of having enough." In many countries, they give you that option. Our leaders tell us that these problems of ours are insoluble except by force, and that we must cede certain casualties to poverty and violence, and yet nearly every problem has already been solved by someone, somewhere: I've witnessed first-hand the blessedly kind health-care system of Spain, and I'd like to see ours follow its example. And the examples of Curitiba, Brazil, which recycles 70 percent of its trash, and Freiburg, Germany, which has brought back its streetcars and made automobiles unnecessary. Paris, Tokyo, and a hundred other municipalities have efficient public transportation systems that I'd like in my own city, thank you. I'd like an end to corporate welfare and multimillion-dollar CEO salaries so we could put that money into ending homelessness, as many other nations have done before us. I'd like us to consume energy, on average, at the modest level Europeans do, and then go them one better. I'd like a government that creatively subsidizes renewable energy and conservation, as Canada has done in some of its public school buildings, earning more than 100 percent return on the investment—which is returned again to the schools as equipment and teacher salaries. I would like us to ratify the Kyoto Protocol today and reduce our fossil-fuel emissions with the help of legislation that will ease us into safer, less wasteful, sensibly reorganized lives. I'd like to stake my pride on a nation that consistently inspires rather than bullies, that brings unconditional generosity to the table, and that dispenses justice over the inevitable bad deal with diplomacy and honor rather than with more bad deals. If this were the humane face we showed the world and the model we brought to working with it, every time, I believe our children might eventually be able to manage with a military budget the size of Iceland's.

There's a great big world out there, some of it clever and some of it frightfully cruel: I recently watched a film about women in Iran that made me go and kiss my sleeping daughters afterward, then kiss the ground on which we were lucky enough to be born. But there's no sense in getting cocky. England freed its slaves a century before we did, and right now many nations of the world consider U.S. policy to be awkwardly behind the times on many matters, from global conservation and science education to capital punishment. I find it helpful to remember this when I sometimes find myself outside the prevailing opinion here: My heart has independently found its way to a position that is, in a larger sense, in.

But whether I stand alone or with many, I'm still bound by that heart of mine to stand where we vote "none of the above" when presented with the equally odious choices of kill or be killed. I'm insulted by the suggestion that no other option exists, when nations all around us take very different strategies, many of them less belligerent than our own, with admirable success. I'm insulted further by the shallowness of the public debate, especially in wartime, founded as it seems to be on news reports devoid of any historical context. Our whole campaign against the Taliban, Afghan women's oppression, and Osama bin Laden was under-taken without nearly enough public mention of our government's previous involvement with this wretched triumvirate, in service of a profitable would-be pipeline from the gas fields of Turkmenistan. If the CIA and some U.S. corporate heads are romancing the same ilk elsewhere, right now, for similar reasons, then this high-minded talk of "Enduring Freedom" is wearing thin on my patience. The men in charge of our wars are well aware of these complex histories, but they speak to us in terms of simplistic threats without shades of cause or consequence, exactly as if we were all children.

Excerpted from "God's Wives Measuring Spoons" in Small Wonder. Copyright © 2002 by Barbara Kingsolver. HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Sailor Twain
by Mark Siegel

Published Mar. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.