Book Review: Arabian Nights & Days

Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz

Arabian Nights & Days: A Novel by Naguib Mahfouz; translated by Denys Johnson-Davies (New York: Anchor Books, 1995; originally published in 1982. 240 pp) Naguib Mahfouz was an author of Arabic fiction. He was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy, he was influenced by many Western writers including Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Proust. He has more than thirty novels to his credit and in 1988, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 2006. Denys Johnson-Davies studied Arabic at the School of Oriental Studies, London University, and later at Cambridge. He has been described as “the leading Arabic-English translator of our time,” and has… Read More →

Book Review: Leaving the Sea

MQ_Leaving_the_Sea

Leaving the Sea: Stories by Ben Marcus (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 271 pp) Ben Marcus is the author of The Age of Wire and String and Notable American Women. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Tin House, and Conjunctions. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and awards from the Creative Capital Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York, where he is on the faculty at Columbia University. Anxiety I expected Ben Marcus’ newest collection of stories to me much of the same. Marcus has made himself known as somewhat of an experimental writer, using unique narratives to portray outlandish stories. However, Marcus begins his collection of short stories with quite the… Read More →

Book Review: Great House

Great House by Nicole Krauss

Great House: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 289 pp) Nicole Krauss is an American novelist whose works include, Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. Krauss was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and was chosen by The New Yorker for their “Twenty Under Forty” list. Burning Down and Building Up “And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 2 Kings 25:9” The history of Israel repeats… Read More →

Book Review: The Fabric of Faithfulness

The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior by Steven Garber (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 1996. 222 pp) Dr. Steven Garber is the Founder and Principal of the Washington Institute. For many years, he taught on Capitol Hill in the American Studies Program, and then became a Scholar-in-Residence for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He is a board member for the Ransom Fellowship, the Blood:Water Mission, A Rocha, and the Telos Project. He is also a consultant for the Wedgwood Circle, the Murdock Trust, the Demdaco Corporation, and the Mars Corporation. A Purpose-Driven Life We’ve all heard about the mission statement. Every business conjures one to varying degrees of success. But why? Everyone talks about mission but… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Walking Dead: Season 4

the walking dead season 4

The Walking Dead: Season 4 created by Frank Darabont (American Movie Classics, Circle of Confusion, Valhalla Motion Pictures) Starring Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Emily Kinney, Scott Wilson, Danai Gurira, Sonequa Martin-Green, Chad L. Coleman, David Morrissey, and Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* Characters Wanted In previous reviews on The Walking Dead, I’ve worried about the fine line between compelling television and “death pornography”—the tendency for the writers to navigate the show from death to death where the only thing in between that matters is building the tension before the next kill. The inherent danger in such a strategy is its desensitization of the characters. What’s the point in pulling… Read More →

Film Review: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Voltage Pictures, Truth Entertainment, Focus Features, R, 117 min) Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, and Jared Leto. Revealing True Colors There’s something about “life threatening” that reveals your true colors. The tough exteriors we all exhibit daily melt away and that vulnerable self you only show behind closed doors begins to peak out. Among many themes, Dallas Buyers Club focuses on this vulnerability and the value it can bring when you embrace it. 30 Days to Live Based on the true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), Dallas Buyers Club examines the milieu of a cultural crisis. An electrician and rodeo cowboy, Woodroof lives at 100… Read More →

Book Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.  288 pp) David Sedaris is an American humorist and the author of Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, among many others. He graduated from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in West Sussex, England. Retreads Five seasons in, I’m facing a dilemma with the critically acclaimed series, Modern Family. Each episode treads on the same ideas. Phil Dunphy does something silly. Jay Pritchett makes a snide comment about his stepson’s masculinity. Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett are fighting about something. And yet, the show is really funny. As long as I… Read More →

Book Review: Youth Without God

Youth Without God by Ödön von Horváth, translated by R. Wills Thomas (Brooklyn: Melville House Publishing, 2012; originally published in 1939. 224 pp) Ödön von Horváth was a playwright and novelist born to an Austro-Hungarian diplomat. He studied at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and spent most of his career in Germany. When the Nazis came to power, Horváth moved to Vienna. He died in 1938 when a falling tree branch struck him. R. Wills Thomas’ (1908-1955) translations from French and German include Ödön von Horváth’s A Child of Our Time. Time Travel One of my favorite aspects of reading is the way it scoops you up and envelopes you in a new culture, setting, or era. I’m a white… Read More →

Film Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (CBS Films, StudioCanal, Anton Capital Entertainment, R, 104 min) Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman. Quit If I could offer a piece of advice to aspiring musicians, it would one, simple terse statement: “Quit.” I don’t mean to be brutally negative, but the music business is not a place for anyone hoping toward a sustainable a career. When I was younger, I had dreams of being in a touring band. Many of the CDs I bought were from underground punk, hardcore, and ska acts. Life on the road seemed glamorous, a pretty awesome career. But truthfully, most of the bands I followed broke up because… Read More →

Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. 784 pp) Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages. In Appreciation of Beauty The creative endeavor represents a fascinating aspect of humanity. We all, more or less, respect aesthetics. Some might not have the ability to discern and deconstruct art, but at a basic level we all hold the ability to say, “That is beautiful.” Art transforms us. We value it and pass it down from generation to generation. There’s even a philosophy of aesthetics that suggests art possesses mystical… Read More →