Book Review: Cities of the Plain

Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Knopf Publishers, 1998. 292 pp) Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933. One of six children, Cormac’s family moved multiple times in his childhood as his father accepted different occupations. In 1951, McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee majoring in Liberal Arts. Midway through his studies, McCarthy served in the Air Force for four years. After his service, McCarthy returned to college, writing his first short stories. In 1959 and 1960, he won the Ingram-Merrill Award for Creative Writing. Mccarthy’s first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1965. Several years, grants, and fellowships later, McCarthy published Suttree, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses marking his rise in literary… Read More →

Film Review: Visioneers

Visioneers directed by Jared Drake (Fireside Film and Mayfly Films, R, 94 minutes) Starring Zach Galifianakis, Judy Greer, and Mía Maestro. Absurdity Since the birth of existentialism, absurdity has worked as a delightful comedic medium. In low brow settings, Monty Python (let’s not fool ourselves, the troupe is brilliant despite their silly sketches) explores absurdity when is depicts a couple of safari men performing the fish slapping dance. On the other side of the spectrum, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is a play that portrays two men with minute attention spans waiting for God. In both instances, the writer finds comedy in the absurdities of life. When considered deeply, life contains many strange and downright silly aspects. In a similar… Read More →

Book Review: The Hole in Our Gospel

The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009. 352 pp) Richard Stearns is the president of World Vision (US) and former chief executive officer of Lenox Corporation, a luxury tableware company. He attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for his MBA. The Hole in Our Gospel won the 2010 Christian Book of the Year. The World versus the Pulpit A few years ago, my theological convictions about the world shifted. Born and raised in a conservative evangelical church, I found the things I observed in the world to differ… Read More →

Book Review: Wise Blood

Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O’Connor (New York:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1962. 248 pp) Born in Savannah, Georgia, Flannery O’Connor attended Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College & State University) graduating in 1945 with a degree in Social Sciences. A year later, she enrolled in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she studied journalism. While at the Workshop, O’Connor first drafted her seminal novel, Wise Blood. Later, she published the novel, The Violent Bear It Away, and two books of short stories: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge. Her writing is informed, often paradoxically, by her devout Catholicism and the grotesque. She died in 1963, at the age of 39,… Read More →

Television Show Review: Breaking Bad: Seasons 1-3

Breaking Bad: Seasons 1-3 created by Vince Gilligan (High Bridge Productions, Gran Via Productions, and Sony Pictures Television) Starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul. Dexter Morgan vs. Walter White As I watched the first three seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, I couldn’t help but compare the series to Dexter, television’s other critically acclaimed series featuring a protagonist with dark secrets. Where Dexter Morgan is a serial killer vigilante, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a down-on-his-luck chemistry teacher who utilizes his scientific expertise to cook methamphetamines. Although it may sound astonishing, I argue that Dexter functions as a more likeable character than Walt. In spite of its dark content, Dexter carries an air of levity. In between murders,… Read More →

Book Review: The Unconsoled

The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. 535 pp) Born in 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan, Kazuo Ishiguro moved with his family to England in 1960. Ishiguro attended the University of Kent receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and continued his education at the University of East Anglia obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing in 1980. A celebrated novelist, Ishiguro has been nominated four times for the Man Booker Prize, winning it in 1989 for his work, The Remains of the Day. Recently, Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, was adapted to a full-length film featuring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. Ishiguro resides in London with his wife and daughter. The Unconsoled as Broccoli… Read More →

Book Review: East of Eden

East of Eden: A Novel by John Steinbeck (New York: Penguin Books, 1952. 601 pp Born in Salinas, California in 1902, John Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. In 1919, he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years, he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City. He published his first novel, Cup of Gold, in 1929. After a marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, California, Steinbeck continued writing novels. Popular success and financial security came with Tortilla Flat in 1935 and he became best known for… Read More →

Book Review: Tree of Codes

Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer (London: Visual Editions, 2010. 285 pp) Born in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Safran Foer attended Princeton University earning a degree in philosophy. While at Princeton, Foer developed a senior thesis around the life of his Holocaust surviving grandfather. Eventually, this thesis became Foer’s first published book titled, Everything Is Illuminated. The book received critical acclaim winning the National Jewish Book Award and a Guardian First Book Award. Eventually, the novel was adapted into a film starring Elijah Wood. Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel garnered both praise and derision for its use of 9/11 as a narrative tool and its use of visual writing. Foer currently teaches in the Graduate… Read More →

Musical Review: How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

 How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser (Playing at AlHirschfeld Theatre, 2 hours and 45 minutes) Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rose Hemingway, John Larroquette, Tammy Blanchard, and Christopher J. Hanke. On Broadway For those unaware, my wife and I recently returned from a trip to New York. I had the opportunity to present a paper at an international business ethics conference and we spent some time afterward “vacationing.” If I had to pick one unanimous piece of advice given by those who have traveled to New York before us, it would be “see a Broadway show.” Since tickets cost an arm and a leg, Tara and I waited… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season Two created by Frank Darabont; produced by Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Robert Kirkman, and Charles H. Eglee (Circle of Confusion and Valhalla Motion Pictures) Starring Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, and Chandler Riggs. A Premature Review Partly because I’m currently engaged in some lengthy books and need to post some content, I am reviewing the current season of The Walking Dead despite the fact that it is early in its second season. As I mentioned in my review of the show last year, I am not a fan of the zombie genre. Yet, the more I consider the subtext beneath these post-apocalyptic narratives, the more the genre… Read More →