Book Review: The Hole

The Hole by Hye-young Pyun

The Hole: A Novel by Hye-young Pyun, translated by Sora Kim-Russell (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2017; originally published in Korea in 2016. 208 pp) Hye-young Pyun made her literary debut in 2000 winning the Seoul Shinmun’s annual New Writer’s Contest with her short story ‘Shaking Off Dew.’ She has since published four short story collections and two novels. She has received several of Korea’s most prestigious literary awards, including the Yi Sang Literary Award in 2014 and the Hyundae Munhak Award in 2015. She lives in Seoul. Sora Kim-Russell is a literary translator based in Seoul. Her translations include Hye-young Pyun’s Ashes and Red, Hwang Sok-yong’s Familiar Things and Princess Bari, Base Suah’s Nowhere to Be Found, and Kyung-sook Shin’s… Read More →

Book Review: The Givenness of Things

The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson

The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne Robinson (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 336 pp) Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Marilynne Robinson earned her B.A. at Pembroke College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has received numerous awards, notably the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize, and a National Humanities Medal. A Moving Faith Does life require a moving faith? I ponder this question as my boy begins to enjoy attractional church services and the impending possibility of active, long-running church membership enters my thoughts. As my son begins to consider nascent… Read More →

Book Review: Forest Dark

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

Forest Dark: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (New York: Harper, 2017. 295 pp) Nicole Krauss is an American novelist whose works include, Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. Krauss was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and was chosen by The New Yorker for their “Twenty Under Forty” list. The Masks We Wear I wear a mask in public. It shrouds just enough of my imperfections; it accentuates elements of who I believe others would like me to be. Is “public me” really me? Does anyone outside my wife and… Read More →

Book Review: The World to Come

The World to Come by Jim Shepard

The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. 272 pp) Jim Shepard is the author of four previous collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which won The Story Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his short fiction has often been selected for Best American Short Stories and The Pen/O Henry Prize Stories. The most recent of his seven novels, The Book of Aron, won the PEN/New England Award and the Sophie Brody Medal for Excellence in Jewish Literature. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children and three beagles, and he teaches at Williams College. Who Needs Pay? A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s… Read More →

Book Review: Institutional Intelligence

Institutional Intelligence

Institutional Intelligence: How to Build an Effective Organization by Gordon T. Smith (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017. 224 pp) Gordon T. Smith is the president of Ambrose University and Seminary in Calgary, Alberta, where he also serves as professor of systematic and spiritual theology. He is an ordained minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and a teaching fellow at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia. He is the author of many books, including Courage and Calling, Called to Be Saints, Spiritual Direction, and The Voice of Jesus. Where Have You Gone, Institutional? As the 2017 roller coaster comes to a complete stop, a variety of circumstances fight for the label of a year’s defining moment. The world feels miles different… Read More →

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 →

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 →

Book Review: Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2017. 208 pp) Rachel Khong grew up in Southern California and holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Florida. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, Joyland, American Short Fiction, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and California Sunday. She lives in San Francisco. The Bowl of Mixed Nuts It all started with a pill in the mixed nuts. For years, the one rule by which we lived centered on how my grandparents would bestow gastrologic riches upon visiting family. Good food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…. Read More →

Properly Introduced: “Train Juju”

Iowa Review 47 1

“Train Juju” by Iheoma Nwachukwu in The Iowa Review 47/1 “Presently, he reassembled his family. It made Corporal Nwafanim happy. His three sons, aged five, seven, and eight, returned as he had wished. More importantly, his wife came, too. Where before, when he got off work, he had sat in harsh silence in the scratched armchair, closing his eyes to relive the firm weight of his mother’s breast in his mouth at age seven, or, at other times, slowly pitching back and forth in the seat as he watched the jerk of the clay lamp’s flame on the bare table, now there were the squabbling cries of his little boys to sweeten his evenings.”