Book Review: The Flame Alphabet

The Flame Alphabet: A Novel by Ben Marcus (New York: Knopf, 2012. 304 pp) Ben Marcus is the author of The Age of Wire and String and Notable American Women. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Tin House, and Conjunctions. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and awards from the Creative Capital Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York, where he is on the faculty at Columbia University. The Curious Case of Parenthood They say life transforms once you become a parent. The transition is instant. One day you care about music and video games; the next, you… Read More →

Book Review: Abraham Kuyper

Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader by Abraham Kuyper; edited by James D. Bratt (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1998. 512 pp) Abraham Kuyper was a Dutch politician, journalist, statesman, and theologian. Kuyper studied at Leiden University and received a doctorate in 1862. He founded the Anti-Revolutionary Party and held the office of Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905. A staunch Calvinist and a proponent of conservatism, Kuyper seceded from the Dutch Reformed Church and founded the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. He published many books during his lifetime and died in the Netherlands in 1920. James D. Bratt is a professor of history at Calvin College. He earned his B.A. from Calvin and his Ph.D. from Yale University. He is also… Read More →

Film Review: Limitless

Limitless directed by Neil Burger (Relativity Media, Virgin Produced, PG-13, 105 minutes) Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, and Abbie Cornish. Lake Wobegon Have you ever felt like life is giving you lemons? I know, personally, that I sometimes struggle with this notion. My perceived talents do not necessarily translate into productive contributions in the world. Whether valid or not, I believe that I can learn anything. While such a belief more than likely illustrates self-deception, I believe that most people think this way. Truthfully, the “Lake Wobegon effect” is a psychologically proven hypothesis. Neil Burger’s Limitlessdelivers a concentrated injection of this sort of hopeful thinking. A Limitless Drug Centered on protagonist, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), Limitless imagines what would… Read More →

Television Show Review: Dexter: Season 6

Dexter: Season 6 developed by James Manos, Jr. (Showtime Networks, John Goldwyn Productions, The Colleton Company) Starring Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, James Remar, and C.S. Lee. I Might Be an Anglophile Without intentionally positioning myself as an anglophile, I appreciate the reserve under which English television operates. No matter how massive the hit, English writers and producers understand that quality trumps quantity. As such, these television professionals would rather sacrifice paychecks than integrity. Not so in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Case in point, the best episodes of Showtime’s hit series, Dexter, exist in its rear-view mirror. With Season 6, the viewer continues on a plot development holding pattern. The setting remains the same—a… Read More →

Book Review: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon (New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 464 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabonwas 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. He is married to poet Lollie Groth. Sitka: In Memoriam A calm morning toward the end of an Alaska cruise,… Read More →

Book Review: Good News to the Poor

Good News to the Poor: John Wesley’s Evangelical Economics by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990. 236 pp) The current Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology at Chicago Theology Seminary, Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. earned his A.B. from Duke University in 1964 and both his B.D. and Ph.D. from Emory University in 1967 and 1971 respectively. Jennings has served as a local pastor and taught for three years at the Methodist Seminary in Mexico City. He has served as a consultant with the United Methodist Church on issues related to commitment to the poor. His research interests include Christian doctrine, biblical theology, gay studies, contemporary late modern philosophy and deconstruction. The Relationship between Wealth and Piety Similar to… Read More →

Film Review: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre directed by Cary Fukunaga (Scion Films, Canana Films, and Creando Films, R, 96 min) Starring Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, and Kristian Ferrer. 35,000 Feet between Cultures An airplane flies overhead as the characters look up in awe, dreaming of the day that they too can board a passenger plane. This scene is a brief but defining moment in Sin Nombre. It expresses the distance between the life of the viewer and the life depicted on screen. Shot in Mexico and with dialogue in Spanish, Sin Nombre depicts the intertwining lives of two characters, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and Willy “El Casper” (Edgar Flores), as they escape the poverty and gang culture of Honduras. Strikingly Different People, Strikingly Similar Pursuits… Read More →

Book Review: The Fates Will Find Their Way

The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel by Hannah Pittard (New York: Ecco Publishing, 2011. 256 pp) Hannah Pittard’s fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s, the Oxford American, the Mississippi Review, BOMB, Nimrod, and StoryQuarterly, and was included in 2008 Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories. She is the recipient of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award and has taught fiction at the University of DePaul and the University of Virginia, where she was also a Henry Hoyns Fellow. Telephone! It begins as early as preschool with children congregating in a circle. The teacher kneels and whispers information to a girl urging her to motion it onward to her neighbor’s ear. As the children intake, comprehend, and transfer information, the… Read More →

Book Review: The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011. 416 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 Bachelor/ette-ization of America As a seemingly perpetual joke, The Bachelor/ette television… Read More →

Book Review: Second Treatise of Government

Second Treatise of Government by John Locke, edited by C.B. Macpherson (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1980; originally published in 1690. 124 pp) Widely known as the Father of Liberalism, John Locke’s work in epistemology and political philosophy has influenced countless nations. Born in 1632 in England, Locke attended Westminster School in London earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Having fled to the Netherlands to escape suspicion of an assassination plot, Locke began publishing his writing upon his return to England. With his writing gaining widespread influence, Locke died in 1704. He never married nor fathered children. C.B. Macpherson was born in Toronto, Canada in 1911. From 1935 to his death in 1987, he taught primarily at the University of Toronto… Read More →