Book Review: Arcadia

Arcadia: A Novel by Lauren Groff (New York: Voice, 2012. 304 pp) Born in Cooperstown, New York, Lauren Groff graduated from Amherst College and later earned an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, and Ragdale. Groff’s first book, The Monsters of Templeton, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two sons. Utopia  “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and… Read More →

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern (New York: Doubleday, 2011. 400 pp) Erin Morgenstern is a writer and artist. She studied theatre and studio art at Smith College. The Night Circus is Morgenstern’s first published work. She currently lives in Massachusetts. Mind Tricks and Sleight of Hand There’s something wondrous about a magician. Setting aside the cheesy music and the fantastical costumes, the magic trick is mesmerizing. Having been deceived by sleight of hand, I always want to deconstruct the illusion in attempts of learning the trick. However, understanding the guts behind a magician’s work forces the viewer to comprehend the illusions differently. In short, the magic trick loses its luster. With ignorance comes joy as illusions erupt… Read More →

Album Review: Ashes & Fire

Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams (Capitol Records/Pax Americana Record Company, 2011. 43 minutes) Ryan Adams is a singer-songwriter renowned for his contributions to the alt-country genre. Originally a member of the band Whiskeytown, Adams began his solo career with Heartbreaker in 2000. A prolific songwriter with 13 albums released since 2000, Adams garnered the most commercial success with Gold. In addition to music, Adams has published Infinity Blues and Hello Sunshine, books of poetry. Adams married Mandy Moore in 2009 and took an extended hiatus—for him, at least—from music. In 2010, Adams founded a record label, PAX AM and has released has latest two releases on the label. The Rubric of Great Art There are times when music pauses… Read More →

Book Review: The Law of Love and the Law of Violence

The Law of Love and the Law of Violence by Leo Tolstoy; translated by Mary Koutouzov Tolstoy (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2010; originally published in 1948. 128 pp) Leo Tolstoy is a late nineteenth century Russian novelist known best for War and Peace and Anna Karenina. In his youth, Tolstoy studied law at Kazan University. Tolstoy gained massive wealth from his fictional writing, and as a result, developed into a social reformer and Christian anarchist in his later years. Tolstoy died in 1910. Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” represents the most influential document from my undergraduate years. Read in conjunction with an ethics class, King’s words resonated in ways I had previously never felt…. Read More →

Album Review: Mylo Xyloto

Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay (Parlophone, 2011. 44 minutes) Coldplay are a British alternative rock band led by vocalist Chris Martin. Recently produced by Brian Eno, Coldplay has enjoyed a high level of acclaim and success. The band has won numerous awards throughout their career, including seven Grammy Award wins from twenty Grammy Award nominations. Coldplay has sold over 50 million records worldwide. What is in a Name? “Mylo Xyloto.” Upon hearing these words, the first thing that came to mind was this exact thought: what? Martin claims that it means “xylo toes”, as in musical toes from a xylophone. But, album title aside, Mylo Xyloto is wonderful. Despite the aid of Brian Eno, it took me a while to get… 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 →

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 →

Book Review: All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. 302 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… Read More →