Staff Choice

Staff Choice

April 25, 2004|By Annie Linskey

Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air, by Gregory Dicum. Chronicle Books. 175 pages. $14.95.

Overriding current anxieties of commercial flying, Dicum celebrates the joys available by choosing the window seat. "The food might be utilitarian, the seat cramped, and your neighbor annoying," Dicum writes. "But the sheer pleasure of contemplating our planet from 35,000 feet (about 6.5 mi., or 10.7 km) in the air is worth any price. A century ago, nobody on Earth could have hoped to see this view." The book contains 70 aerial photos of various landmarks, all in North America. It guides readers though common curiosities seen from the air including: pivot irrigation circles (which are not, as it turns out, created by UFOs), the Northern Lights and feather-like drainage patterns in the high plains. Photos were taken by a satellite -- not from an airplane -- but are glorious. My favorites include the icy barrens in the Arctic Circle, a bucolic farmland next to the Chesapeake Bay, and, for some reason, a shot of the country's largest tire dump (40 million tires near New Haven, Conn. Bound to provide considerably more entertainment than the in-flight movie.

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