Film Review: Nebraska

Nebraska

Nebraska written by Bob Nelson, directed by Alexander Payne (Paramount Vantage, FilmNation Entertainment, Blue Lake Media Fund, R, 115 min) Starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk. Thoughts of My Son My boy isn’t even 5 months old yet, but I imagine the day when he’ll need to take care of me… Or put me in a home if I’m being honest. It’s odd to consider this little man who can’t even use a toilet will someday be someone I’ll need to rely upon. But thus is the nature of the familial relationship and the nature of aging. We all needed our diapers changed. We all procured a driver’s license. We all will retire. We all will… Read More →

Book Review: The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai (New York: Viking, 2014. 352 pp) Rebecca Makkai’s first novel, The Borrower, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, and an O, The Oprah Magazine selection. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review, and has been selected four times for The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, she lives in Chicago and Vermont. The History of Place I live in a house nearing its one-hundredth birthday. I am aware of a few of the inhabitants before me, perhaps 5 years worth of residency. The people meandering these rooms for the other 95 years are left to the imagination…. Read More →

Book Review: The Magician’s Land

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The Magician’s Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman (New York: Viking Press, 2014. 401 pp) Born in 1969, Lev Grossman has a degree in literature from Harvard, and spent three years at Yale in the Ph.D. program in comparative literature. He writes for TIME as their book reviewer and as one of its technology writers. Codex (2004) became an international bestseller, and The Magicians (2009) was named one of the best books of 2009 by The New Yorker. In August of 2001, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He also has a wife and two daughters. Leaving Fillory Behind Our hero, Quentin Coldwater, has lost everything since the last installment of the Magician’s trilogy. His friends and his childhood world of Fillory are now restricted to him. Naturally,… Read More →

Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012. 432 pp) Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gillian Flynn earned undergraduate degrees in English and journalism at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Flynn wrote for Entertainment Weekly for 10 years—4 of which were as the TV critic. Her first book, Sharp Objects, won two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. Gone Girl has been adapted into a feature film. Page-Turner Sometimes there’s nothing better than a page-turner. I usually shy away from page-turners as for better or worse, I tend to label them guilty pleasures—they aren’t deep, literary fiction. But not all page-turners and New York Times bestsellers are created equal. When… Read More →

Book Review: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel by Joshua Ferris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 352 pp) Joshua Ferris is the author of two previos novels, Then We Came to the End and The Unnamed. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Best American Short Stories. Ferris was chosen for The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers in 2010. He Lives in New York Modernity Examined The modern world offers an exorbitant amount of preposterousness when considered deeply. We’re an advanced culture that’s been able to push past the limitations of Babel, and yet we don’t want to go beyond “good morning” with our co-workers, people we… Read More →

Film Review: The Counselor

The Counselor

The Counselor written by Cormac McCarthy, directed by Ridley Scott (Fox 2000 Pictures, Scott Free Productions, Nick Wechsler Productions, R, 117 min) Starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt. The Weakest Link There’s truth to the saying, “You’re only as strong as the weakest link.” In business, you could have the highest performing management, design sensibility, and customer service, but if your supply chain is poor, the customer won’t be happy. In sport, you can try your best to hide your weakness but you’ll inevitably need to rely on that part when the season is on the line. Penned by Cormac McCarthy, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Hollywood A-Listers — The Counselor ought to be… Read More →

Book Review: Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet

Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2005. 532 pp) Lydia Millet has a master’s in environmental policy from Duke University. Her 2002 novel, My Happy Life, won the PEN-USA Award. She lives in Tucson, Arizona. In Appreciation of Beauty Radiohead introduced the computer age with the masterpiece of a record, OK Computer. It balanced pop accessibility with complicated song structures and intricate production. The hit single, “Karma Police” defines everything about this record. It starts off as a beautiful, artistic piece of music; it strategically ends with the music falling apart. The point being, our identity becomes unhinged the more we let the computer run our lives. If we let, we might spiral out… Read More →

Book Review: Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (New York: Anchor Books, 1994; originally published in 1959. 209 pp) Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He is a graduate of University College, Ibadan. He left an early career in radio and become a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Achebe was a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts and at the University of Connecticut. Achebe has won the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize, The New Statesman-Jock Campell Award, the Nigerian National Merit Award, and the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. He was awarded more than twenty honorary doctorates and received the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He died… Read More →

Television Show Review: Fargo: Season 1

Fargo: Season 1

Fargo: Season 1 created by Noah Hawley (MGM Productions, FX Productions) Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine. Paying Homage The mini-series is a current trend on the television landscape. A one-and-done season allows showrunners to woo bigger stars, enticing them with the promise of a few episodes and minimal time. True Detective earned rave reviews, not only for pristine writing, but also the performances from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Fargo uses the same blend with pristine results. Adapting the sensibility of the Coen Brothers, and using their world from the film, Fargo, Fargo the television series approaches the dichotomy of good and evil through the rough tundra of northern Minnesota. Characters… Read More →

Television Show Review: TURN: Season 1

TURN

TURN: Season 1 created by Craig Silverstein (AMC Studios, Sesfonstein Productions, and Josephson Entertainment) Starring Jamie Bell, Heather Lind, Burn Gorman, Samuel Roukin, Seth Numrich, Daniel Henshall, Meegan Warner, Kevin McNally, Angus Macfadyen, and JJ Field. Sticking with It One parental principle I hope to instill in my son is the concept of sticking with it. If you sign up for something, you remain committed to it through the duration, whether it’s a sporting season, or a certain agreed level of expertise on an instrument. Not wanting to be a hypocrite, when I signed up to watch the first season of TURN, I did so acknowledging I’d watch the whole thing no matter how good or bad the show might… Read More →