Part of my learning journey has meant checking out every unusual book about food and consumption I can find at our local library.
The first book I read was My Empire of Dirt, by Manny Howard. (You can read the New York magazine article by the same title here.)
Howard spent a better part of a year turning his Brooklyn backyard into a farm, and then he spent one month trying to live off of the land. This entire process was so consuming that it took him to some really dark places.
I’m not vegan, but by the end of the book I was definitely leaning that way. There’s a finale involving rabbit #3 that is really disturbing.
The part about the book that most fascinated me, had nothing to do with food.
The teacher in me kept wondering if Manny Howard had ever been assessed for gifted-ed.
Manny Howard seems to have a unique combination of brilliance, intensity, and the often inability to get his mind to stop thinking about something. He has the tenacity to stick with unusual subjects, for extremely long period of times. He’s highly verbal, but also a spatial thinker.
There were hundreds of instances in the book where you could see that his mind kept revving, even when everyone else was telling him to chill out.
Anyone familiar with Kazimierz Dabrowski’s theory of overexcitabilities and gifted people would read this book and say “Whoa! This is classic.” (I have a bit more about gifted/intense here on my blog.)
When I started reading all of the reviews on Amazon about this book, I was saddened by how many of them attacked Manny Howard personally. I finally had to stop reading the reviews because they made me so upset.
Sometimes the more gifted a person is, the harder time they have leading a “mainstream” life. That doesn’t mean they aren’t successful.
And what’s with the Amazon reviewers bashing him because his wife makes more money than him? What’s up with that?