Book Review: 1Q84: Book One

1Q84: Book One by Haruki Murakami (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 1184 pp) Born in 1949 in Japan, Haruki Murakami studied drama at Waseda University. He began writing fiction at the age of 29, inspired to write a novel while watching a baseball game. Murakami earned literary fame with his best-selling novel, Norwegian Wood. In the wake of its success, he earned writing fellowships at Princeton University and Tufts University. Murakami has won the Franz Kafka Prize, the Kiriyama Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, and the International Catalunya Prize. Quizzical  Do you remember the last time you didn’t know that answer to a question? Did it bother you, your state of unknowing? I’m a big fan of… Read More →

Television Show Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 8 created by Larry David (HBO Films) Starring Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, and Susie Essman.   The Arid Wasteland of Network Television  Seinfeld is brilliant television. Now fourteen years removed from the last episode, Seinfeld receives regular air time on multiple channels. Its staying power is uncanny. Seinfeld’s jokes and awkward situations are countlessly retold in friend groups nationwide. In all honesty, I am surprised at Seinfeld’s staying power. With quirky writing a shade toward highbrow, I find Seinfeld’s stay on network television remarkable. The 2000s, to an extent, represent a failure of mimicry. Even though the networks endlessly search for the next smart hit comedy, the drive for profits and viewership causes plugs… Read More →

Book Review: Dumb History

Dumb History: The Stupidest Mistakes Ever Made by Joey Green (New York: Plume, 2012. 256 pp) A former contributing editor to National Lampoon and a former advertising copywriter at J. Walter Thompson, Joey Green is the author of more than forty-five books. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Plume Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. Mistakes Make Brilliance  Everyone makes mistakes, even smart people. To a certain extent, brilliance is a product of multiple failures. It’s easy to credit… Read More →

Book Review: Arcadia

Arcadia: A Novel by Lauren Groff (New York: Voice, 2012. 304 pp) Born in Cooperstown, New York, Lauren Groff graduated from Amherst College and later earned an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, and Ragdale. Groff’s first book, The Monsters of Templeton, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two sons. Utopia  “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and… Read More →

Film Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close directed by Stephen Daldry; written by Eric Roth and Jonathan Safran Foer (Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures, PG-13, 129 minutes) Starring Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and Max von Sydow. A Grief Observed Grief is a difficult concept. It defies reason; it reacts in the visceral regions of the body. Some people immediately return to work in order for the dark feelings to subside. Others need weeks, months, and sometimes years to restore their soul. No matter the method by which people work through pain, grieving is a process we all must endure. With Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, we gain access to a particular way toward managing grief. Adapted… Read More →

Television Show Review: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season Five created by Matthew Weiner (Lionsgate Television, Weiner Bros., and American Movie Classics) Starring Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, January Jones, John Slattery, Kiernan Shipka, Robert Morse, and Jared Harris. Recommended, Highly  In replacement of a spoiler warning, if you haven’t watched Mad Men, stop reading this review and rent Season One. Actually, before you do so. I need to make sure you’ll like it. There’s nothing worse than highly recommending something that someone doesn’t like. Mad Men is a slow-boiling character-driven drama. If you need a fast-paced plot, death, mystery, and explosions. Steer clear! If you like complex characters, though, you need to watch Mad Men. For Matthew Weiner and company, Season 5… Read More →

Book Review: A Generous Orthodoxy

A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional + Evangelical + Post/Protestant + Liberal/Conservative + Mystical/Poetic + Biblical + Charismatic/Contemplative + Fundamentalist/Calvinist + Anabaptist/Anglican + Methodist + Catholic + Green + Incarnational + Depressed-Yet-Hopeful + Emergent + Unfinished Christian by Brian McLaren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. 352 pp) Brian McLaren, born in 1956, graduated from the University of Maryland with B.A. and M.A. degrees. He taught English before serving as the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church. Apart from his church duties, McLaren is known for his contributions to the emerging church movement. Time has named McLaren as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals. He is married to Grace McLaren and they have four adult children. A Seminary Kind… Read More →

Book Review: Ambiguous Adventure

Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane; translated by Katherine Woods (Brooklyn: Melville House Publishing, 2012; originally published 1962. 176 pp) Cheikh Hamidou Kane was born the son of a local chief in Senegal in 1928. He studied philosophy and law at the Sarbonne in Paris and later at the École Nationale de la France d’Outre-Mer. While in Paris, Kane wrote Ambiguous Adventure basing it on his experiences. Upon returning to Senegal, he published his novel to considerable acclaim winning the Grand Prix Littéraire d’Afrique Noir. Kane garnered employment in the Senegalese government in multiple ministerial positions. Kane lives in Dakar, Senegal. Besides her translation of Ambiguous Adventure, Katherine Woods is best known for her translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The… Read More →

Book Review: Zeitoun

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (New York: Vintage Books, 2009. 368 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. Mistakes We Knew We Were Making Imagine making a colossal mistake. I’m not talking about burning a turkey or showing up late for a date. I’m talking about losing-your-job big. Often times, mistakes at this level… Read More →

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern (New York: Doubleday, 2011. 400 pp) Erin Morgenstern is a writer and artist. She studied theatre and studio art at Smith College. The Night Circus is Morgenstern’s first published work. She currently lives in Massachusetts. Mind Tricks and Sleight of Hand There’s something wondrous about a magician. Setting aside the cheesy music and the fantastical costumes, the magic trick is mesmerizing. Having been deceived by sleight of hand, I always want to deconstruct the illusion in attempts of learning the trick. However, understanding the guts behind a magician’s work forces the viewer to comprehend the illusions differently. In short, the magic trick loses its luster. With ignorance comes joy as illusions erupt… Read More →