Thoughts on Women and Literature

A couple weeks ago, I happened upon this article at the Huffington Post. In summary, the author of the article interviewed two popular novelists – Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner­ – about literary fiction and the critically praised novel, Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. Both Picoult and Weiner criticize publishers and reviewers alike for exalting a novel about a broken family while avoiding similarly-themed novels by female authors. Simply put, when men write about family, their books are considered literary fiction; when women write about family, their books are labeled romance. Looking at my library, it is extremely male dominant. My library coupled with Picoult and Weiner’s revelation makes me particularly troubled. I want to read well-written books no matter the… Read More →

Book Review: Salvation City

Salvation City: A Novel by Sigrid Nunez (New York: Riverhead Books, 2010. 288 pp) Living in New York City, Sigrid Nunez has published six novels in her career. She is the winner of the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a residency from the Lannan Foundation. She has also received the Rome Prize Fellow in Literature in the American Academy in Rome, a Literature Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Previously, Nunez taught at Amherst College, Smith College, Columbia University, as well as… Read More →

Film Review: The Town

The Town directed by Ben Affleck (Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, R, 125 minutes) Starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, John Hamm, and Jeremy Renner. Based in Charlestown, a neighborhood of Boston, the Town tells the story of a washed-up hockey player turned bank robber caught in the vicious cycle of crime. After a successful robbery, the main character – Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) – volunteers to intimidate a hostage (Claire played by Rebecca Hall) after discovering that she lives four blocks away from the thieves’ home base. While being observed in a Laundromat, the hostage approaches Doug asking for some change. After some basic dialogue, Doug asks Claire out on a date, setting in motion a story of love, crime,… Read More →

Book Review: The Last Town on Earth

The Last Town on Earth: A Novel by Thomas Mullen (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006. 432 pp) Born in Rhode Island, Thomas Mullen graduated from Oberlin College. His first novel, The Last Town on Earth received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction, Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune best book of the year. Mullen currently resides in Atlanta with his wife and two sons. Having thoroughly enjoyed The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers, I decided to take a stab at Mullen’s debut novel, The Last Town on Earth. Set in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest, a small town named Commonwealth quarantines itself in an attempt… Read More →

Book Review: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals By Michael Pollan. (New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 450 pp) Michael Pollan is a contributing writer for New York Times Magazine and the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He has written seven books and countless articles on current agrarian issues. In 2010 alone, Pollan added the Social Justice Champion Award from the California Center for Public Health to his many recognitions as well as being named to the Time 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people. He lives with his wife and son in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was young, I vividly remember receiving harsher punishments when I lied… Read More →

Quick Hits: New Music

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz Out October 12th, The Age of Adz is the long-awaited follow-up to Come on Feel the Illinoise. Word has it that Stevens traded folk influences and acoustic timbres for glitchy electronic rhythms. Typically, I am a fan of change because when an artist makes three albums in a row, they become Creed. I expect good things from the Age of Adz. Junip – Fields A band fronted by José González, a famed Swedish singer-songwriter of Argentine origins. In content and feel, Fields resembles the González’s collaboration with Zero 7. José’s trademark voice and nylon-stringed guitar mold particularly well with electronic tones. The Walkmen – Lisbon This New York band bears raw tonal qualities… Read More →

Book Review: Lake Overturn

Lake Overturn: A Novel by Vestal McIntyre (New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. 443 pp) Born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, Vestal McIntyre is an award winning novelist. He has twice won the Lambda Literary Award. In 2006, he received a Fellowship in Fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. McIntyre lives in both New York City and London. Literary fiction takes many forms. Sometimes it takes the shape of social satire placed within a simple narrative, other times it takes the form of an author, self-aware of the words he or she places on the page, and even still, other times it takes the form of a complexly interwoven plot. Partly… Read More →

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcίa Márquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa (New York: Harper Perennial, 1967. 417 pp) Gabriel Garcίa Márquez is a Colombian novelist whose notable books include Love in the Time of Cholera, The Autumn of the Patriarch, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, Márquez is considered one of the most significant authors of the Twentieth Century. With a foundation in magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude follows the growth of the Buendίa family and the city of Macondo. Drawing from childhood stories, Márquez pens an extraordinary tale of love, death, and loneliness. The book begins with a foreboding sense of determinism when Márquez writes: “Many years… Read More →

Book Review: Tortured Wonders

Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels by Rodney Clapp (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004. 278 pp) Rodney Clapp is the executive editor of Brazos Press. Previously, he was employed as an editor at Christianity Today and InterVarsity Press. Clapp has written countless articles on the church and culture as well as seven books. I hate Spirit 105.3. If you like that radio station and I hurt your feelings, I apologize. In all honesty, I really do not want you to have hurt feelings, but I find Spirit 105.3 less wholesome and family friendly (as they advertise) and more vomit-inducing otherworldly fakery. Of course I am painting this station in broad strokes and I have no special insight regarding… Read More →

Film Review: It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud directed by Davis Guggenheim (Thomas Tull productions and Sony Pictures Classics, NR, 98 minutes) Starring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White Everyone loves electric guitar. Beyond its pleasant aesthetic and varying tonal qualities lies an iconic cultural status. From the metal-head who spends more time shredding in Guitar Center than in the classroom to the almost universal urge to play guitar in the air when a real guitar does not suffice, guitar wins. I am unaware of the competition guitar entered but it totally won. It Might Get Loud caters to our dreams and desires. While our rock star fantasies died before inception through Junior High and High School bands or garage rock with friends,… Read More →