Book Review: Silence

Silence by Endo

Silence: A Novel by Shūsaku Endō, translated by William Johnston (New York: Picador, 2016; originally published in 1969. 256 pp) Born in Tokyo in 1923, Shūsaku Endō was raised by his mother and an aunt in Kobe, where he converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of eleven. At Tokyo’s Keio University, he majored in French literature, graduating with a BA in 1949, before furthering his studies in French Catholic literature at the University of Lyon in France between 1950 and 1953. Before his death in 1996, Endō was the recipient of a number of outstanding Japanese literary awards: the Akutagawa Prize, Mainichi Cultural Prize, Shincho Prize, and the Tanizaki Prize, and was widely considered the greatest Japanese novelist of… Read More →

Book Review: The Nix

The Nix by Nathan Hill

The Nix: A Novel by Nathan Hill (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 640 pp) Born in Iowa, Nathan Hill earned his BA in English from the University of Iowa and his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Hill’s debut novel, The Nix, was a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times. Hill’s writing has been published in The Iowa Review, Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Denver Quarterly, and Fiction. Hill is an Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas and lives in Naples, Florida. History Written through Familial Relationship That person is someone’s daughter. The phrase often emerges in conversation where one party hopes to place… Read More →

Book Review: Liturgy of the Ordinary

Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. 184 pp) Tish Harrison Warren writes regularly for The Well, Her.Meneutics, and Christianity Today. She is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, serving at Resurrection South Austin. After seven years of campus ministry with InterVarsity at Vanderbilt and the University of Texas at Austin, she now works with InterVarsity Women in the Academy & Professions. Turning the Ordinary Extraordinary Consider your average day. What did you do? In my day job, we work with clients to define a DITLO, short for “Day In The Life Of.” These exercises intrigue for a handful of reasons; they allow for people to… Read More →

Book Review: Smoke

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke: A Novel by Dan Vyleta (New York: Doubleday, 2016. 448 pp) Dan Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the USA, and the UK. With writing compared often to Kafka, Dostoevsky, Hitchcock, and Nabakov, Vyleta has written numerous books to critical acclaim, including making the shortlist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the winner of the J.I. Segal Award. Sin and Sin Again The history of humanity is a continuous struggle toward understanding why humans treat each other so disastrously. Any origin story or fable attempts to deal with the negative aspects of human relations. For some, it starts with the fruit of a tree and blossoms into brother murdering brother. For others, sin… Read More →

Book Review: The Real Madrid Way

The Real Madrid Way

The Real Madrid Way: How Values Created the Most Successful Sports Team on the Planet by Steven G. Mandis (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2016. 344 pp) Steven G. Mandis is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and chairman and senior partner of Kalamata Capital. He earned his AB from the University of Chicago and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Columbia University. Thinking about My Life’s Work A life’s work. The phrase means less than it used to mean. For most people. A life’s work will be a series of stops, likely at companies with high variance of deliverables. The daily tasks of the worker may be the same but the overarching goals or the building of something bigger than… Read More →

Book Review: The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special: A Novel by Chris Bachelder (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. 213 pp) Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark, U.S.!, and Abbot Awaits. His fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, The Believer, and the Paris Review. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Cincinnati, where he teaches at the University of Cincinnati. Rhythms and Rituals We are a species addicted to rhythm and ritual. In college, we sit in the same seat day-by-day and class-by-class. At work, we grab the same coffee order and check our emails around the same time. As parents, we do our best to create rhythms and rituals for our children. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner… Read More →

Book Review: You Are What You Love

You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2016. 224 pp) James K. A. Smith is the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview at Calvin College. With a background in philosophy focused on French thought, Smith engages as a public intellectual and cultural critic. In addition to his published books, Smith has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, Christianity Today, and The Hedgehog Review. A Divided World We live in a divided world. The obvious unpacking of this statement surrounds divisive politics or schisms between worldviews. But, our experiences are divided even at a metaphysical level. In other words,… Read More →

Book Review: Heroes of the Frontier

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers

Heroes of the Frontier: A Novel by Dave Eggers (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 400 pp) Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dave Eggers attended the University of Illinois but dropped out to take care of his younger brother in the wake of his parent’s death. These experiences are chronicled in Eggers’ best-selling memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In addition to published works, he has founded McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house, and 826 National, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids 6-18 in urban areas across the nation. Dad Brain Whenever my family attends a social gathering, I often find myself equally present and aloof. I engage in conversation, attempt witticism, hope to be a contributor to the… Read More →

Book Review: Moonglow

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Moonglow: A Novel by Michael Chabon (New York: Harper, 2016. 448 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabon was born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. Hiking Mount Constitution A decade ago and an era far far away, I took my wife—then girlfriend—to the oasis known as the… Read More →

Book Review: The Twelve

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Twelve: A Novel by Justin Cronin (New York: Ballantine Books, 2012. 608 pp) Justin Cronin is the author of The Passage, The Twelve, Mary and O’Neil, and The Summer Guest. His work has earned him a PEN/Hemingway Award, a Stephen Crane Prize, Whiting Writer’s Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Houston, Texas with his family. *Spoiler Alert for the Previous Books* Let’s Talk Plot and Structure Even though narratives can take many forms and stylistic flourishes, I tend to enjoy the prologue. This excerpt at the beginning of a story allows the author to set the stage and make statements about the overarching themes to come. When I think of the… Read More →