Book Review: The Snow Child

The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (New York: Reagan Arthur Books, 2012. 400 pp) Named after a character in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Eowyn Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. Educated at Western Washington University and the University of Alaska, Anchorage, Ivey began her career as a reporter for the Frontiersman. Her award-winning articles have been published in the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Magazine, and other publications. Currently, Ivey works at Fireside Books, an independent bookstore. The Snow Child is Ivey’s debut novel. The Space between Reality and Fantasy  One of my favorite movies of all time, Pan’s Labyrinth earned critical acclaim and an Academy Award for… Read More →

Book Review: Genesis

Genesis: A Novel by Bernard Beckett (New York: First Mariner Books, 2010. 150pp) Bernard Beckett (b. 1967) is a high school teacher in Wellington, New Zealand. He teaches math, drama, and English. He wrote Genesis while researching DNA mutations. A Doctoral Thesis  I entered a vacant room. A projector glowed, brightly illuminating the tension of the space. In the next fifteen minutes, I watched academics, some of whom I knew, fill the room in quiet anxiety. Then, my friend, a hopeful doctor, entered the room, connected his computer to the projector and nervously waited for three influential professors to ascend their thrones of power. As they entered the room, the one in the middle addressed the crowd, announcing, “Welcome to… Read More →

Book Review: Acres of Diamonds

Acres of Diamonds: All Good Things Are Possible, Right Where You Are, and Now! By Russell H. Conwell and Robert Shackleton (Lexington: Feather Trail Press, 2009; originally published in 1915. 92 pp) Born in Massachusetts, Russell Conwell attended Yale University and Albany Law School. Conwell founded Temple University and pastored The Baptist Temple in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An Inspiring Story  For some reason, the simplicity of the standard “success story” conjures the hopeful sentiment that such accomplishments could occur in any life. Truthfully, most successful stories begin with an idea, a notion of which all human beings are equally capable. In Acres of Diamonds, Russell Conwell utilizes positive and negative narratives in order to inspire productivity in his community. In Defense… Read More →

Album Review: Some Nights

Some Nights by Fun. (Fueled by Ramen/Nettwerk, 2012. 46 minutes) Fun. is an American indie pop band from New York City that was formed in 2008 after lead singer Nate Ruess broke up with his Arizona-based band, The Format. He formed the band with Andrew Dost of Anathallo and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train. Epic As I sit writing this review, I am one day removed from receiving word that I needed to listen to Some Nights by Fun. I was in the store at the time, getting some groceries for the week, and I was told to leave the shopping cart in the aisle, and run home to listen to it. In retrospect, I should have left the cart… Read More →

Television Show Review: Awake

 Awake created by Kyle Killen (Letter Eleven, Teakwood Lane Productions, 20th Century Fox Television. Airs Thursday night on NBC.) Starring Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, and Dylan Minnette. Cogito Ergo Sum  René Descartes seemingly graces the annals of history exclusively for the quote, “I think; therefore I am.” The sentence is an answer on a high school history quiz; it is chiseled in the foundations of university philosophy departments. Unhooked from its preceding line of reasoning on the pursuit of epistemological truth, the sentence sounds painfully obvious. By positing that thinking is his conclusive proof of his existence, Descartes asserts that all other sensory experience might be false. As such, the all-too-familiar notion of a realistic dream offers questions. If a… Read More →

Album Review: Kisses on the Bottom

Kisses on the Bottom by Paul McCartney (Hear Music, 2012. 56 minutes) Sir Paul McCartney (MBE, Hon Ram, FRCM) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. He is well-known for his work with The Beatles (1960-1970) and is widely considered the most successful musician and composer alive. He has sixty gold records; his song “Yesterday” has been covered by more than two thousand artists; and has thirty-one number one singles on the Billboard top 100. He is one of the wealthiest people in the UK, with an estimated wealth of £475 million. An Icon Is Born Sir Paul McCartney is an icon who is turning seventy this year. From Beatles days of old to his work with Wings and even… Read More →

Book Group: My Name is Red

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk; translated by Erdaǧ Göknar (New York: Knopf, 2001. 536 pp) Set in Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire, My Name Is Red functions as a murder mystery at its core. In its simplest construction, the plot of this novel seeks to find out who-done-it. Yet, the strength of this prize-winning story lies not in its plot but in its poetic language and descriptive setting. The main characters frequent the miniaturist scene painting illustrations for the Sultan. With a recent commission from the sovereign causing uproar, a murder occurs and the victim’s associates become the most likely suspects. Andrew: This novel has an intriguing narrative structure. How do you feel that impacted the novel as… Read More →

Book Review: The Illumination

The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier (New York: Pantheon Books, 2011. 272 pp) Kevin Brockmeier is the author of The View from the Seventh Layer, The Brief History of the Dead, The Truth about Celia, Things That Fall from the Sky, and two children’s novels. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists, among other publications. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. Illustrate and Elevate While in high school, I learned a writing technique that remains a tried-and-true method for introducing an essay, lecture, or blog post. Coined “illustrate and elevate,” the procedure… Read More →

Book Review: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. 124 pp) John Piper is a Christian preacher, author, and theologian. He is currently preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His works include Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, The Passion of Jesus Christ, and Don’t Waste Your Life. The Problem of Jesus Christ John Piper manages to accurately summarize the problem of Jesus Christ: humans, no matter their religious affiliation, try to make Jesus fit into a pre-conceived mold they have set for Him. Perhaps it’s better to just let Him be who He is, both immensely loving and surprisingly offensive. Piper states, “There is no more important issue in life than seeing Jesus for… Read More →

Book Review: A Theology for the Social Gospel

A Theology for the Social Gospel by Walter Rauschenbusch (Mansifeld Centre: Martino Publishing, 2011; originally published in 1918. 290 pp) Walter Rauschenbusch was the leading proponent of the Social Gospel Movement whose mission was to reform society to meet the social needs of the poor through the ministrations of the institutional church. PBS recently called him “one of the most influential American religious leaders of the last 100 years.” The Nature of Sin and Salvation  When attempting to manufacture a systematic theology, the nature of sin and salvation becomes integral components of the position. Slight changes in these core beliefs cause vast differences externally. Having previously labored toward the notion of “the social gospel,” Walter Rauschenbusch writes A Theology for… Read More →