Book Review: Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach: A Novel by Jennifer Egan (New York: Scribner, 2017. 448 pp) Jennifer Egan is the author of five previous books of fiction: A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Keep; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award finalist; and The Invisible Circus. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, McSweeney’s, and The New York Times Magazine. A Crisp Morning in the San Juans Life’s verification exists in the vignettes we embed in our unconsciousness. Our senses capture the material world and etch these memories into our brains like a Dürer woodcut. Of the many etchings catalogued in… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Deuce: Season 1

The Deuce Season 1

The Deuce: Season 1 created by David Simon and George Pelecanos (HBO, Blown Deadline Productions) Starring James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gary Carr, Dominique Fishback, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, Method Man, Daniel Sauli, Kayla Foster, Don Harvey, Chris Bauer, Chris Coy, Natalie Paul, Michael Rispoli, Anwan Glover, and David Krumholtz. Red, White, and Blue Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Football. Country. Bourbon. Basketball. Levi’s. Budweiser. American as apple pie. When I think about the brand persona of the good ‘ol Red, White, and Blue, these are a few of its favorite things. Yet beneath these cosmetic representations of civic pride, there’s a deeper concept in the American ethos. The entrepreneurial spirit. A natural end to the “bring-me-your-poor” narrative,… Read More →

Book Review: Fresh Complaint

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

Fresh Complaint: Stories by Jeffrey Eugenides (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 304 pp) Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 8, 1960, Jeffrey Eugenides is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. As an undergraduate, he attended Brown University and later earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University. Eugenides received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fellowship for a short story he wrote in 1986. In 2002, his novel, Middlesex, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. Eugenides works on faculty at Princeton University’s Program in Creative writing and lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter. The Knot in Your Stomach A signal of life, outside of biological factors such… Read More →

Book Review: Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus: 1818 Text by Mary Shelley, edited by Marilyn Butler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008; originally published in 1818. 276 pp) Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797 to authors William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Poet Bysshe Shelly courted Mary and the pair eloped in 1814, during which that summer Mary began writing Frankenstein. She died in 1851. Marilyn Butler is a former Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, and previously King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. Questions in the Western Cultural Canon The western cultural canon offers an intriguing case study on how the roots of a story take hold before blending into whatever a culture requires of it. What starts as… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 4

BoJack Horesman Season 4

BoJack Horseman: Season 4 created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (Netflix, Tornante Company, ShadowMachine) Starring Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. Onward to Positive Psychology Have you ever noticed the perspective of self-talk? While a subjective observation, it seems self-talk slides into second person. “You’re not good enough.” “Look what you did this time.” “You’re never going to make it.” As a teenager, my limited training in positive sports psychology argued for a surgical denunciation of this “other.” Often if I used the “I” pronoun and told myself I would succeed or have a good day, I would tend to have a better day. Some Christian traditions suggest the “other” as a demonic accusation of sorts,… Read More →