Book Review: Between Heaven and Mirth

Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by James Martin, SJ (New York: Harper One, 2011. 272 pp) Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America Magazine, and bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. Father Martin has written for many publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he is a regular commentator in the national and international media. He has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, as well as in venues ranging from NPR’s Fresh Air, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, and PBS’s NewsHour to Comedy Central’s… Read More →

Book Review: Pattern Recognition

Patter Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition: A Novel by William Gibson (New York: Putnam, 2003. 362 pp) William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction novelist. A pioneer in the genre of “cyberpunk,” Gibson has earned numerous awards including the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the Ditmar Award, the Seiun Award, and the Prix Aurora Award. Form and the Unreliable Narrator Sometimes I take minor joy in the serendipitous connections between my reading and television consumption habits. Currently, I’m diving into Mr. Robot, the critically acclaimed hacker drama. Taking a chapter out of the cult classic, Fight Club, Mr. Robot uses an unreliable narrator to question toxic masculinity and the expectations of the dominant culture. With visual cues corresponding to… Read More →

Book Review: The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty

The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely (New York: Harper Perennial, 2012. 318 pp) Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His work has been featured in many outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and others. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Sumi, and their two children, Amit and Neta. We’ve All Stolen Something Who among us hasn’t stolen a pen from work? The writing instrument, ball-point gliding against paper, emitting tones of black or blue, has a cost…. Read More →

Book Review: American Appetites

American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates

American Appetites: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates (New York: Dutton, 1989. 340 pp) Born in Lockport, New York, Joyce Carol Oates earned her B.A. from Syracuse University and her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin. An author of over 40 novels, Oates has received numerous awards, including the O. Henry Award, the National Book Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. See You in Court The courtroom drama only has a minuscule amount of end games. Between guilty, not guilty, and possibly a hung jury, a story has little room to shock or surprise. And yet, legal theater draws much interest. Why? I’m no psychologist but if I had to hazard a guess,… Read More →

Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline (New York: Broadway Books, 2011. 376 pp) Ernest Cline is a screenwriter, spoken-word artist, and full-time geek. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel. To Buy and Buy Again Unfettered consumerism is probably going to kill us all. Someday, our insatiable appetites will catch up to us. Tracing the roots of consumerism often point us to the birth of advertising and marketing. The strategic impulses encouraging us to buy more than we need to account for our production surpluses. Of course, once consumption becomes normal, the next phase is to consume based on cultural… Read More →

Book Review: Before the Fall

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall: A Novel by Noah Hawley (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016. 400 pp) Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film, Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer for the hit series, Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo. Aviophobia I fear flying. While recognizing its irrationality, I can’t help but experience a quickening heartbeat and increased perspiration as a flight approaches take off. I know how safe such an action… Read More →

Book Review: Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 576 pp) Jonathan Franzen is an American author. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in German. Franzen has received widespread acclaim for his book, The Corrections. He has won the National Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California. Realism Nut Crackers Realism is a tough nut to crack. Especially in literary fiction where the growth of the character is largely internal, too many convenient turns in a plot illustrate sloppiness and remove the suspension of disbelief. How often have you noticed a convenient plot detail in a television series where said event doesn’t… Read More →

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 →