Book Review: American Pastoral

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 423 pp) Philip Roth is a novelist born in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Bucknell University and earned his M.A. in English literature from the University of Chicago. He taught at the University of Iowa, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Roth has earned numerous awards during his career including, the National Book Award, the National Book Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Franz Kafka Prize. Plot and Structure I’m reading a book on plot and structure. It provides a fascinating look under the hood of narrative and story. One revealing item that now seems self-evident surrounds the differentiation between literary fiction and popular fiction. I… Read More →

Book Review: Rain

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett (New York: Crown Publishers, 2015. 368 pp) Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is the author of two previous books, Mirage and Blue Revolution, a Boston Globe top 10 science book of 2011. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and children. Joy of a Rainy Day Rain represents a simple joy in life. I’m not talking a deluge. Not even a monsoon. Just the simple drizzle renowned in the Pacific Northwest. I find satisfaction in a book on the porch while the syncopated patter of the rain offers a soundtrack to whatever the current narrative offers…. Read More →

Book Review: The Report

The Report by Jessica Francis Kane

The Report: A Novel by Jessica Francis Kane (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2010. 240 pp) Born in Berkeley, CA, Jessica Francis Kane graduate from Yale University. Her work has earned her the Lawrence Foundation Prize and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and special mention in the Puschart Prize Anthology. She lives in New York with her husband and their two children. Unite and Divide National tragedies have a tendency to unite and divide. It whittles down to use against them. On the one hand, the “us” becomes extremely pronounced. The importance of neighbor increases when shared experience pushes a community toward teamwork and generosity. On the other hand, “them” becomes a nebulous evil…. Read More →

Television Show Review: Show Me a Hero

Show Me a Hero

Show Me a Hero written by David Simon and directed by Paul Haggis (Blown Deadline Productions, Pretty Pictures, Home Box Office) Starring Oscar Isaac, Carla Quevedo, Alfred Molina, Ilfenesh Hadera, Natalie Paul, Peter Riegert, Jon Bernthal, Winona Ryder, and Brianna Horne. Literary Quotes “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald The path of righteousness is a lonely road. The right side of history does not often equate with the populace. When a hero takes a stand, you better bet she’ll face opposition. It’s the nature of the beast. Even more interesting are the people whose leadership emerges in shades of gray. Taking a stand occurs as a matter of convenience, or as the best… Read More →

Book Review: The Whispering Muse

The Whispering Muse by Sjon

The Whispering Muse: A Novel by Sjón; translated by Victoria Cribb (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012; originally published in 2005. 160 pp) Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is an acclaimed Icelandic novelist. He won the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize for The Blue Fox. His Latest novel, Moonstone—The Boy Who Never Was was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. A poet, librettist, and lyricist, Sjón has worked with Björk. He is the president of the Icelandic PEN Centre and former chairman of the board of Reykjavik, UNESCO city of Literature. Victoria Cribb lived in Iceland for a number of years, working as a translator, journalist, and publisher. She has translated the works of Sjón, Gyrδir Elíasson, and Arnaldur… Read More →

Book Review: Strategy

Strategy by Lawrence Freedman

Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 768 pp) Lawrence Freedman studied at Whitley Bay Grammar School, Victoria University of Manchester, University of York, and University of Oxford. Freedman has held positions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Royal Institute of International Affairs, and currently as Professor of War Studies at King’s College London. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy, appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. What’s It All Mean Anyway? There’s a lot going on in the world. Be careful or you might get run over. With millions of people attempting to… Read More →

Book Review: Calling & Clarity

Calling & Clarity by Doug Koskela

Calling & Clarity: Discovering What God Wants for Your Life by Doug Koskela (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015. 136 pp) Doug Koskela is associate professor of theology and associate dean for undergraduate studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University. What Will You Do? I would argue the question of purpose represents one of the central conundrums in life. As a child, endless potential allows for dreams to span the universe. You can be that 7-foot center in the NBA, no matter your actual height, commandeering the driveway to practice your sky hook. But eventually, the dream fades to basic reality. At 5’11’’ with no hops, your professional basketball years are a mirage. No matter… Read More →