Glass, Paper, Beans by Leah Hager Cohen
Revelations on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things

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Synopsis

Once upon a time, we knew the origins of things: what piece of earth the potato on our dinner plate came from, which well our water was dipped from, who cobbled our shoes, and whose cow provided the leather.  In many parts of the world, that information is still readily available.  But in our society, even as technology makes certain kinds of information more accessible than ever, other connections are irrevocably lost.  In Glass, Paper, Beans, Leah Cohen traces three simple commodities on their geographic and semantic journey from her rickety table in the Someday CafÚ to their various points of origin.  And through the intimate portraits of three everyday workers--Ruth Lamp, a night-shift supervisor at the Anchor Hocking glass factory in Ohio; Brent Boyd, a third-generation lumberjack from Plumweseep, Canada; and Basilio Salinas, a man who tends the coffee trees at Pluma Hidalgo, Mexico--a whole new world of connections and values are realized as Cohen, Oz-like, draws the reader across time and continents.

In prose both sophisticated and stunningly simple, Leah Cohen braids the lives of these three unforgettable workers as she traces the origins, myths, and manufacture of glass, paper, and the beloved coffee bean.  An elegant and inspired inquiry into the true nature of things, Glass, Paper, Beans is a classic work on the economy of everyday life.

Leah Hager Cohen is the author of Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World, chosen by the American Library Association as one of the best books of 1994.  She lives outside of Boston with her husband and son.
 

About Leah Hager Cohen

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Leah Hager Cohen is the author of Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and chosen by the American Library Association as one of the best books of 1994; and a novel, Heat Lightning.  She lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children.
 
Published January 20, 1997 by Doubleday Business. 320 pages
Genres: Business & Economics. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Lingering over a cup of coffee and a newspaper at Boston's Someday Cafe, Cohen (Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World, 1994) immerses herself in a Proustian rumination on the origins of the familiar: glass, paper, coffee beans.

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Publishers Weekly

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In sparkling, nimble prose, Cohen (Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World) recreates the story behind the ""object""-in this instance, glass, paper and beans, although the object could as well be a toothbrush or a nail-and people whose livelihoods depend on those objects, a history of how the object...

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