November 30, 2005
Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters,
and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas (Hardcover)
This is a most remarkable, authentic account of how a mother with five children who fished for shrimp became an advocate against the toxic pollution that was pouring into the bay off of Seadrift, Texas. It is her book and her voice, as raspy, dreamy and determined as any recent southern novelist that weaves together a true account that you won't put down.
Diane Wilson is not an "educated woman" in the traditional sense. She comes from a long line of shrimpers and just happens to be an "unreasonable woman" who found out that multi-billion dollar corporations (especially a large Taiwanese firm that came to the U.S. because the Taiwanese people had kicked them out) were polluting her home waters with cancerous causing chemicals -- and she raised hell. She is partial to a quote by George Bernard Shaw: "A reasonable woman adapts to the world. An unreasonable woman makes the world adapt to her." Wilson advises, "So, I'm telling all you women out there to be unreasonable."
Wilson's fight for the health and clean waters of Seadrift, Texas, is Erin Brockovich and the victims she advocated for all wrapped into one strong-willed, seafaring, tough woman. Her husband used to keep poisonous snakes from biting their five children by shooting them at close range with his pistol, once or twice under a crib.
When BuzzFlash readers despair of what they can do on their own, they ought to read this mesmerizing story of an "unreasonable woman." It's like sitting down with a candid friend who damn well knows how to tell a story, with the rich homespun texture of a Southern twang.
If you don't believe BuzzFlash about how wonderful this book is, here is what Molly Ivins has to say: " I am writing about the most extraordinary book by the most extraordinary woman, and I would have interviewed her at length, except she's going to be arrested if she ever sets foot back in our home state.
That's pretty much the way life goes these days for Diane Wilson,
who used to be just a regular old shrimper and mother of five kids,
until she accidentally became an activist. Then, all hell broke loose.
The results are described in "An Unreasonable Woman: A True
Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift,
Going up against all that can make you feel slightly outmanned and outgunned. But Diane Wilson has discovered a weapon I believe is the greatest strength of many women: pure, cussed stubbornness. She is an unreasonable woman. God bless her. Unreasonable women may yet save the world.
In 1989, the shrimping in Lavaca Bay was so poor, Wilson, a fifth-generation shrimper, was running a fish house. Lavaca Bay is home to one of the nation's largest underwater mercury superfund sites, a toxic pile left by Alcoa. But Wilson's descriptions of the beauty of that poor, broken bay just rip at your heart."
Wilson's life changes when "a shrimper with three different kinds of cancer brought Wilson a small clipping from The Associated Press saying that Calhoun County was No. 1 in the nation for toxic waste disposal. Wilson had lived in Seadrift all her life and never heard anything about it -- never read it in the paper, never heard it on TV."
As Ivins notes, Wilson is on the lam now. She had the audacity to get in the face of Union Carbide for their responsibility for another act of corporate pollution -- on another side of the world -- the death of more than 20,000 persons in Bhopal, India. And they pressed charges.
So now Wilson is exiled from her beloved Seadrift. But the world has gained one hard-as-an-armadillo-shell advocate.
BuzzFlash plans on catching up with her soon for an interview.
By the way, isn't it the people who run Union Carbide who should be the ones in jail? That would be asking too much of justice, wouldn't it?