Book Review: Falling Sideways

Falling Sideways: A Novel by Thomas E. Kennedy (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011 304 pp) Born in New York City, Thomas Kennedy wanted to become a writer after reading Dosteovsky’s Crime and Punishment. Kennedy earned a B.A. in language and literature from City College of New York. Immediately after his undergraduate studies, Kennedy took a job as News Editor of World Medical Journal based in France. After a few years at the journal, Kennedy took a job with the Danish Medical Association. It wasn’t until 1981 that Kennedy published his first work in a literary journal. In 1985, he received his MFA from Vermont College and, then, received a Ph.D. in American Literature at the University of Copenhagen. Kennedy has won… Read More →

Book Review: A Paradise Built in Hell

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit (New York: Viking Press, 2009. 368 pp) Based in San Francisco, Rebecca Solnit has authored thirteen books on art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. A product of the California education system, Solnit attended San Francisco State University as an undergraduate and the University of California, Berkeley where she received a Masters in Journalism. She is a contributing editor to Harper’s and often contributes articles to Tomdispatch.com. During her career, Solnit has earned a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and a 2004 Wired Rave Award. Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short… Read More →

Film Review: The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick (Cottonwood Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, and River Road Entertainment, PG-13, 139 minutes) Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain. Why Me? Do you remember the last time you cried uncontrollably? In those moments when tears threaten to disrupt breathing patterns and life seems to change course, did you ask, “Why me?” Though circumstances differ from person to person, we all encounter these life altering and painful-to-the-bone scenarios. With Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or-winning opus, The Tree of Life, such existential crises are exquisitely depicted on film. Job As the movie commences, Job 38:4 flashes over a blank screen. In this biblical passage, God declares, “Where were you when I laid the foundation… Read More →

Looking for a Job? Consider Writing a Personal Biography

We all want to grab the attention of someone we hope to impress, and we’re tempted to do just about anything to be noticed. Remember Elle Wood’s pink and scented resume in Legally Blonde? She is not alone; officious employees have tried a myriad of attention grabbing techniques over the decades. Photo by Jason Tavares With a new crop of fresh graduates submitting resumes on the open market, Michael Margolis at the 99% suggests in a recent article entitled, “The Resume Is Dead, The Bio is King” that job applicants should reconsider submitting a weighty resume in an effort to impress. Instead, a well-crafted narrative will do a better job of piquing the interest of potential business associates. On the surface, the reason for the shift in… Read More →

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (New York: Anchor Books, 2003. 376 pp) Born in Ottawa in the autumn of 1939, Margaret Atwood grew up in Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She attained her B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto and her M.A. from Radcliffe College. Atwood has written more than 50 works of poetry, children’s fiction, fiction, and non-fiction. While she is most known for her many novels, her book, Blind Assassin, received highest acclaim winning the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Currently, she lives with Graeme Gibson in Toronto. Patenting Nature Last year, my wife and I watched Food, Inc. on Netflix. While much of the movie shocked us, nothing was more appalling than the brazen… Read More →

Film Review: Super 8

Super 8 directed by J.J. Abrams (Amblin Entertainment, Bad Robot, and Paramount Pictures, PG-13. 112 minutes) Starring Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, and Riley Griffiths. Mystery Shrouded in mystery, the trailer for Super 8 reveals very little plot. From it, we get a clear picture that J.J. Abrams is interested in telling a story through concealment. Much like Ernest Hemingway’s writing style, this form of narration builds suspense as the human mind fills in the blank spaces. Super 8 is a science fiction film that depicts a small town’s encounter with a dangerous unknown being. The protagonists of the film are a group of children who are filming a Super 8 zombie movie. While filming a scene at the… Read More →

Book Review: Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut (New York: Dell Publishing, 1969. 216 pp) Kurt Vonnegut was a fourth-generation German-American who lived in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (while smoking too much), who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, “the Florence of the Elbe,” a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace. The Muzzle of a Gun Despite the glorification of war on the silver screen, the principle of war is not only brutish and disheartening but… Read More →

Film Review: Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine directed by Derek Cianfrance (Hunting Lane Films and Silverwood Films, rated R. 112 minutes) Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The Anti-Reality of the Hollywood Divorce What kills a relationship? Hollywood typically answers this question in extremes. Too often, a marriage falls apart as a husband is unfaithful or a wife completely changes her personality. In real life, many relationships end with the passing of time. When people jump into commitments early, the warts and ugly spots of each person creep out and many marriages lose during the test of time. Sure, some relationships end over the big things so often depicted in Hollywood, but sometimes a marriage dissolves after many small-yet-irksome qualities emerge. With the film, Blue… Read More →

Album Review: Codes and Keys

Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie (Atlantic Records and Barsuk Records, 2011. 45 minutes) Formed in Bellingham, Washington under the shadow of Western Washington University, Death Cab for Cutie is Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Walla (guitars, production, keyboards), Nick Harmer (bass), and Jason McGerr (drums). The band signed to Barsuk Records off the strength of an early demo written primarily by Ben Gibbard. On Barsuk, Death Cab released four albums to much local and critical acclaim. Transatlanticism – perhaps the most famous release from their time on the Barsuk label – launched Death Cab as an international act. In 2004, Death Cab signed a worldwide deal with Atlantic Records and soon after released Plans, an album… Read More →

Book Review: The World is a Ball

The World Is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer by John Doyle (New York: Rodale, 2010. 352 pp) Born in Ireland, John Doyle currently works as the television critic for Toronto’s The Globe and Mail. Holding a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Anglo-English Studies from University College, Dublin, Doyle moved to Canada in order to pursue a Ph.D. at York University. Doyle writes about soccer for many publications and has worked on location at multiple World Cups and European Championships. In addition to The World Is a Ball, Doyle published A Great Feast of Light in 2005. Doyle has won two internal Globe and Mail awards for his writing. Culture Soup I’ve always thought it… Read More →