New and Notable

Susan Salter Reynolds reviews two May releases

Crabgrass Crucible
By Christopher C. Sellers 
(University of North Carolina Press, 384 pages, $42)
The rough edges of midcentury L.A. and NYC were full of vest-pocket eco-climes, proof of Sellers’s argument that suburbanites were the original environmentalists. Here chaparral and coastal sage scrub were fragmented by freeways and malls. A not-in-my-backyard sentiment inspired the early conservation. The rise of organic gardening and the persistence of possums are also tackled. 


Radio Iris
By Anne-Marie Kinney 
(Two Dollar Radio, 192 pages, $16)
What’s going on at Larmax Inc.? Receptionist Iris Finch (Eleanor Rigby incarnate) answers the phone—when it rings. Her boss is mysterious—no, scary. Business slows to a murmur. Author Kinney is a Southern California Camus. She writes the old story of human versus workplace monotony with a twist. Iris may not be glamorous, but she is persistent, with a front-row seat to the end of business as usual.