Book Review: The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen (New York: Random House, 2010. 397 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. “Large than life, she’d heard someone say. What can be larger than life? Death, or is that smaller? People do tend to become larger in death, their finer qualities extending outward like an endlessly serialized tale, their flaws and foibles forgotten, their stories continually retold. Larger… Read More →

Book Review: The History of the Siege of Lisbon

The History of the Siege of Lisbon: A Novel by José Saramago (San Diego: Harcourt & Brace, 1998. 314 pp) José Saramago was a Nobel Prize winning author from Portugal. He passed away at the age of 87 on June 18, 2010. Although Saramago did not receive widespread recognition until he was 60 years old, he has been highly prolific in the years since. Blindness, one of Saramago’s most highly regarded books was made into a major motion picture in 2008. He is survived by his wife Pilar Del Rio and a daughter from a previous marriage. Before we begin, I must confess that José Saramago is one of my favorite authors. His creativity, social critiques, and pseudo-realism in works… Read More →

Film Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes directed by Guy Ritchie; Warner Home Video, 128 minutes. Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachael McAdams, and Mark Strong. The mystery genre has always been slightly problematic for me because it seems easy to connect events through tenuous circumstances and odd observations. Suppose the killer has dirty hands: the mystery writer makes the detective deduce that the killer works in the coal mine in the neighboring county. However, dirty hands do not guarantee the occupation of this individual. The killer perhaps recently landscaped his or her backyard. The foundational reasoning in Sherlock Holmes carries these same inferences. Logic aside, Sherlock Holmes mixes both good and bad in a strikingly mediocre movie. Concerning what is good; Robert Downey,… Read More →

Book Review: Justification

Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision by N.T. Wright (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009. 279 pp) N.T. Wright studied at Sedbergh School and Exeter College before being ordained as a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College. Wright taught at Cambridge, McGill, and Oxford University before becoming the Bishop of Durham. Recently, he took a position as a Chair in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews. There are times when I wish I lived during the era of saints and heretics. As orthodox Christianity developed, people fought over differing theological positions and often resorted to name calling. It is best to view N.T. Wright’s book in a similar fashion. In short, Justification reads as an extended… Read More →

Film Review: Paper Heart

Paper Heart directed by Nicholas Jasenovec. Starring Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, and Nicholas Jasenovec. What is love? Is it a tangible experience? Can a scientist find it in the brain? Some people fall in and out of it; some people do not believe in it; some people think that love is a verb. In Paper Heart, Charylne Yi seeks to understand this complex phenomenon. Paper Heart holds a unique characteristic coined as a “hybrid documentary” by the producers. The movie is partly a documentary because it details the stories of actual human beings, yet at the same time the movie tells a fictional story about the relationship between Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera. For this reason, the movie often breaks… Read More →

Book Review: Soccernomics

Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey–and Even Iraq–Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport By Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (New York: Nation Books, 2009. 328 pp) Simon Kuper writes weekly sports columns for the Financial Times. Of his many books written on soccer from an anthropological perspective, Kuper’sSoccer Against the Enemy won the William Hill Prize for sports book of the year. Kuper lives in Paris with his wife and daughter. Stefan Szymanski is a professor of economics and the director of Sports Network Research Center at Cass Business School in London. He has published many articles on the business of sport with a… Read More →

Book Review: The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists: A Novel by Tom Rachman. (New York: The Dial Press, 2010. 272 pp) Tom Rachman studied at the University of Toronto and Columbia University. Tom worked as an editor and reporter for the Associated Press before moving to Paris to take a job as an editor for the International Herald Tribune. He now lives in Rome. There are times when the setting of a story carries such strength that it acts as a central character in a plot. The Island demonstrates this role for fans of the hit television series, Lost, because they recognize the centrality of this setting in an encapsulating story about characters. In a similar manner, Rachman’s debut novel, The Imperfectionists, portrays – through the… Read More →