Book Review: The Idiot

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The Idiot: A Novel by Elif Batuman (New York: Penguin Press, 2017. 432 pp) Elif Batuman holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Stanford University. She has been a writer in residence at Koҫ University in Istanbul, the Sidney Harmen Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College, and a fellow at the Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars at the New York Public Library. Her work has been published in n+1, and The New Yorker. Freshman Feelings Freshman year represents the nexus between adulthood with its responsibility and adolescence with its singularity of the moment. For those of us seeing increasing space between the present and those college years, that brief era feels like the glory days. These early moments outside the parent’s… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 5

BoJack Horseman Season 5

BoJack Horseman: Season 5 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Tornante Company, ShadowMachine, and Netflix) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. A Matter of Change Can we really change? And, if not, what does that mean for society? Almost everything we do in the modern world operates under the assumption of change. We study, and our knowledge base grows; we practice, and our skills refine. If these external indicators point toward a changing state, doesn’t it stand to reason that our inner lives change too? And yet, certain schools of behavioral psychology argue differently. These theories posit that most elements comprising our internal selves are innate, hard-wired and incapable of change. We are who we… Read More →

Film Review: A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born written by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper and directed by Bradley Cooper (Warner Bros. Pictures, Live Nation Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, R, 136 min) Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, and Dave Chappelle. Chasing the Profound What makes something profound? What conditions of elements must mix together to create a compelling mélange? Surely, surprise must operate as a key element. That which is typical tends not to point toward profundity. We’ve seen it before. It also seems as if relatability acts as a key pillar. If an artwork doesn’t feel human, it likely doesn’t pull at the emotional depths of what makes us who we are. But, it feels like… Read More →

Book Review: No-No Boy

No-No Boy by John Okada

No-No Boy: A Novel by John Okada (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014; originally published in 1957. 282 pp) John Okada was born in Seattle in 1923. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, attended the University of Washington and Columbia University, and died of a heart attack at the age of 47. No-No Boy is his only published novel. Who Wore It Best? There’s an age-old debate between those that did it first and those that mastered it. Often, the innovator lacks the technical skills of the master, but the master hasn’t done something original, he or she just has done it better. So, when handing out a superlative, how should the judge dictate between that… Read More →

Book Review: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: Stories by David Foster Wallace (New York: Back Bay Books, 2007. 336 pp) Born in Ithaca, New York, David Foster Wallace was a regionally ranked junior tennis player in his youth. He earned a degree in English and Philosophy from Amherst College, winning the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize. Later, he earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Arizona. Wallace taught literature at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and later became the Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Pomona College. Over the course of his career, he earned a MacArthur Fellowship, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, and the Lannan Literary Award. Wallace died… Read More →