Book Review: The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers: A Novel by Patrick deWitt (New York: Ecco Publishing, 2011. 336 pp) Born on Vancouver Island in 1975, Patrick deWitt is the author of Ablutions: Notes for a Novel. Currently living in Oregon, deWitt has also lived in California and Washington. His latest novel, The Sisters Brothers, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Giller Prize. Man Booker: A Controversy Last year, the Man Booker Prize committee encountered controversy when they proclaimed that the books shortlisted for the prize “had to zip along”. For many readers who value the artistic merit of such literary prizes, a quick-moving novel represented populist entertainment. This debate between art and entertainment cuts to the core of my reading pleasures…. Read More →

Book Review: God of the Possible

God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God by Gregory A. Boyd (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000. 176 pp The founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church, Greg Boyd received his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and his B.A. from the University of Minnesota. In addition to teaching at Bethel University, Boyd founded Christus Victor Ministries, a nonprofit organization that promotes Boyd’s writing and speaking. He is a recognized theologian and author of numerous books including best-seller, Letters from a Skeptic. Married to his wife Shelley for 28 years, Gregory resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. When Bible Study Becomes Scary When I was young, my parents hosted a… Read More →

Film Review: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris directed by Woody Allen (Gravier Productions, Mediapro, Televisió de Catalunya, PG-13, 94 minutes) Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Marion Cotillard. Why Facebook Causes Covetousness With the advent of Facebook, a new form of the grass-is-greener mentality flowers from the ever-present news feed. Each day when we access our social media, we observe the seemingly wonderful and sometimes over-the-top lives of our friends, family, and acquaintances. Acutely aware of our own mundane existence, we see these contacts and covet their lifestyles. This person got promoted; that person bought a house; this family has a child; that family travels Europe; I’m sitting on a couch; woe is me. In Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris,… Read More →

Film Review: Senna

Senna directed by Asif Kapadia (Universal Pictures, Studio Canal, and Working Title Films, PG-13, 106 minutes) Starring Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, and Ron Dennis. Motor Sports in the Blood Whenever I feel the need to impress a new acquaintance, I often find myself telling stories of my dad and uncles. You see, my father (before he met my mother) raced hydroplanes. As a child, my dad would take me to the pits during Seafair and while I marveled at the loud engines and sleek boat frames, my dad would socialize with drivers, mechanics, and boat owners. Both of my uncles to this day dabble in motor sports. Whether go-karts or open-wheeled Formula Four vehicles, my uncles have the… Read More →

Book Review: The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Téa Obreht (New York: Random House, 368 pp) Born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia, Téa Obreht grew up in Cyprus and Egypt before immigrating to the United States in 1997. Her writing is published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Zoetrope: All-Story, The New York Times, and The Guardian. Her first novel, The Tiger’s Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize. She has been named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty and included in The National Book Foundation’s list of 5 Under 35. Téa Obreht lives in Ithaca, New York. Faith or Reason With the death of famed author and theist critic Christopher Hitchens… Read More →

Book Review: The Ultimate Question

Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth by Fred Reichheld (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2006. 224 pp) Born in Cleveland, Fred Reichheld is an author and business strategist employed by Bain & Company. Holding a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, Reichheld writes on the loyalty business model. His most popular books are The Loyalty Effect, Loyalty Rules!, and The Ultimate Question. In 2003, Consulting Magazine named Reichheld one of the world’s top 25 consultants. Good Ethics Is Good Business? Spend any time with a business executive and you might hear the cliché, “Good ethics is good business.” Setting aside the clear disassociation between this statement and the way American businesses operate, the… Read More →

Donovan’s Top Albums of 2011

For me, 2011 represented a transition year in my musical taste. Where music previously defined a large portion of my life, now, my relation to music, and by default, my musical consumption, diminished greatly this year. While I used to listen to everything under the sun hoping to find new artists, diamonds in the rough, and great music from bands I had previously written off, I spent most of 2011 listening to artists I have previously enjoyed. Even though my list contains some new artists, I must admit that I am less convinced about this list representing the best of 2011’s music. Nevertheless, I hereby submit my top 25 albums of 2011. 25. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light Wasting Light… Read More →

Book Review: Boxer, Beetle

Boxer, Beetle: A Novel by Ned Beauman (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. 256 pp) Ned Beauman was born in London in 1985 and studied philosophy at the University of Cambridge. His writing appears in Dazed & Confused, Another, The Guardian, and The FinancialTimes. His first novel, Boxer, Beetle, was shortlisted for the 2011 DesmondElliott Prize and the 2010 Guardian First Book Award. Review copy provided by Library Thing. What Pawn Stars Can Tell Us about Nazis A couple weeks ago, I watched an episode of Pawn Stars. Setting aside its obvious staged events and scripted dialogue, the show carries an appeal for those interested in the artifacts of history. In fact, I venture a guess that most hope to see someone… Read More →

Film Review: Red State

Red State directed by Kevin Smith (The Harvey Boys and NVSH Productions, R, 88 minutes) Starring Michael Parks, Melissa Leo, and John Goodman. Disorientation Honestly, I love complex narratives. When a storyteller leads me down a path and then pulls the rug from under my feet, I take a certain amount of perverse joy in the deception. So then, Kevin Smith’s Red State, with no discernible protagonist and antagonist, ought to be a film that suits my interests. Sadly, not so. A fine line exists between an artistic shredding of stereotypical plot lines and lazily writing a complex mess. Red State is a complex mess. Horny Teenagers Meet Fundamentalist Zealots The movie begins with our first faux-protagonist, Travis (Michael Angarano) being… Read More →

Book Review: God, Freedom, and Evil

God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977. 121 pp) A well-known American philosopher, Alvin Plantinga is the emeritus John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Born in 1932, Plantinga earned his B.A. from Calvin College and his Ph.D. from Yale University. Known for defending orthodox Christian beliefs by analytical philosophy, Plantinga has published numerous books including God and Other Minds, The Nature of Necessity, and Warranted Christian Belief. During his distinguished career, Plantinga received multiple honorary degrees and fellowships. In 1980, magazine named Plantinga “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God.“ The Problem of Evil Suppose that God, as most Christians believe, is wholly good, all-knowing, all-powerful, and… Read More →