Book Review: Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall: A Novel by Hilary Mantel (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2009. 604 pp) Born in 1952, Hilary Mantel is a novelist, short story writer, and critic. Mantel began studying at the London School of Economics before transferring to the University of Sheffield where she graduated with a degree in jurisprudence. While employed as a social worker after her studies, Mantel began writing. After a decade of travel with her husband, Mantel published her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, in 1985. On the heels of her first novel, Mantel found employment as a film critic for The Spectator. Over the course of her writing career, Mantel has won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for Fludd, the… Read More →

Album Review: Little Hell

Little Hell by City and Colour (Vagrant Records, 2011. 49 minutes) Dallas Green – who performs under the ironic moniker, City and Colour – first entered the music scene with the post-hardcore Canadian band, Alexisonfire. Having already released two albums as a solo artist – Sometimes and Bring Me Your Love – Green has encountered considerable success in his native Canada. He has won a MuchMusic Video Award, Juno Awards for Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, and has been named artist of the year by Chart magazine. Modus Operandi Honestly, my critical modus operandi for music reviewing is based on structures, creative musicianship, and lyrics. If an artist exhibits strength in one area, I am… Read More →

Book Review: 33 Revolutions per Minute

33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey (New York: Ecco, 2011. 688 pp) Dorian Lynskey is primarily a music writer for the Guardian. Previously, Lynskey worked as a freelancer for Q, The Word, Empire, Blender, and the Observer. 33 Revolutions per Minute is Lynskey’s first book. Read Lynskey’s blog at http://33revolutionsperminute.wordpress.com/. A Pet Named Peeves One of my wife’s biggest pet peeves occurs when I mumble meaningless words to the melody of a song. For her, if you don’t know the lyrics, don’t sing the song. I, sadly, find lyrics difficult to remember. Since I play guitar, my ears focus on the music first. I can hum textured instrumental… Read More →

Album Review: Gloss Drop

Gloss Drop by Battles (Warp Records, 2011. 52 minutes) Battles is an avant-garde rock band from New York City. Originally formed as an underground supergroup, each musician carried successful careers outside of the band being associated with groups such as Don Caballero, Lynx, and Helmet. The band began with Ian Williams on guitar, Dave Konopka on bass, John Stanier on drums, and Tyondai Braxton on vocals and guitar. The band released Mirrored, its first full length, in 2007 to glowing reviews. In 2010, Tyondai Braxton left Battles to work in solo projects. With a hole in the vocalist department, Battles recorded its second album, Gloss Drop, with stand-in singers. Gloss Drop peaked at 98 on the Billboard Charts. Summer Camp… Read More →

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451: The Temperature at Which Book Paper Catches Fire and Burns… by Ray Bradbury (New York: Del Rey Books, 1953. 208 pp) With over five hundred published works to his name, Ray Bradbury is one of the heavyweights in American literature during the 20th century. Born in Illinois, Bradbury’s family moved to California when he was thirteen. He graduated from Los Angeles High School and did not enter college. Drawn to writing from an early age, Bradbury attended the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society meeting many of the influential writers in the region. Bradbury began writing professionally by publishing stories in magazines. As his stories encountered praise, Bradbury began writing longer works. As the say, the rest is history…. Read More →

Film Review: Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Olympus Pictures, Blossom Films, and Odd Lot Entertainment, PG-13, 91 minutes) Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, and Dianne Wiest. The Past Events of a Suffering Family Although I rarely discuss it, I lost my older sister when I was nine years old. Due to complications at her birth and negligent medical practice, she ended up brain damaged and bed ridden for her short life. Such a loss changes you at the core. Honestly, I think I was young enough to not fully understand the ramifications, but I see how the event has changed me. In many ways, I’m the oldest child and have assumed all the stereotypes involved with that title. Yet, biologically,… Read More →

Book Review: Bright’s Passage

Bright’s Passage: A Novel by Josh Ritter (New York: Dial Press, 2011. 208 pp) Hailing from Moscow, Idaho, Josh Ritter is best known as a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter. With his songs containing distinctive narrative lyrics, a jump to full-length fiction offered the natural next step. A graduate of Oberlin College with a self-created major of “American History through Narrative Folk Music,” Ritter launched his career in Ireland with the help of Glen Hansard and the Frames. While on a recent tour, Ritter began writing Bright’s Passage and after significant edits, released it with Dial Press on June 28, 2011. Currently, Ritter lives in Brooklyn. Literary Songwriting As a musician and an avid music fan, Josh Ritter’s albums have graced my… Read More →

Book Review: Sepharad

Sepharad: A Novel by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 2003. 400 pp) Antonio Muñoz Molina is a Spanish writer and member of the Royal Spanish Academy. He studied art history at the University of Granada. While working as a journalist in Madrid, Molina published a collection of his articles for his first book. As an author, he has won Spain’s National Narrative Prize twice and the Planeta Prize once. Molina currently lives in New York City. Margaret Sayers Peden is an American translator and professor who received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. Currently a Professor Emeritus, she teaches classes on Spanish, Spanish American literature, Translation, and Interpretation. Her English-language translation of Molina’s… Read More →

Book Review: Business for the Common Good

Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace By Kenman L. Wong and Scott B. Rae (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011. 288 pp.) Kenman Wong, professor of business ethics at Seattle Pacific University, teaches courses in the fields of ethics and microfinance. A graduate of Biola University, the University of Washington, and the University of Southern California (where he received his doctorate in social ethics), Wong as also authored Medicine & the Marketplace, Beyond Integrity (also with Scott B. Rae), and many articles published in scholarly journals. Scott B. Rae serves as professor of biblical studies-Christian ethics at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and the University of… Read More →

Album Review: Bon Iver

Bon Iver by Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar, 2011. 39 minutes) Founded by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, Bon Iver is an indie folk band featuring Vernon, Michael Noyce, Sean Carey, and Matthew McCaughan. The band began when Vernon self-released his first record, For Emma, Forever Ago, after spending three months working through the breakup of a band and a relationship. With much critical praise surrounding the first record, Vernon signed with Jagjaguwar. In the wake of For Emma, Forever Ago, Vernon collaborated with Kanye West on his latest record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Bon Iver released its self-titled second record on June 12, 2011 and entered the Billboard charts at number 2. Sending Chills Down the Spine In certain ways, music contains… Read More →