Book Review: The Blasphemer

The Blasphemer: A Novel by Nigel Farndale (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010. 384 pp) Best known for his interviews in the Sunday Telegraph, Nigel Farndale is a British author and journalist. Farndale went to Barnard Castle School before receiving a master’s degree in philosophy from Durham University. On top of his work for the Sunday Telegraph, Farndale contributes articles to theSunday Times, Country Life, and Spectator. Of his five published books, Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce was shortlisted for both the 2005 Whitbread Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Additionally, The Blasphemer was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa Novel Award. Farndale lives between Hampshire and Sussex with his wife and three sons. The Lifeboat The lifeboat… Read More →

Book Review: Easter Island

Easter Island: A Novel by Jennifer Vanderbes (New York: The Dial Press, 2003. 320 pp) Jennifer Vanderbes graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in English Literature and received her M.F.A in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has obtained both the Guggenheim and Cullman Fellowship and has taught at both the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Columbia University. Easter Island, her first novel, obtained the honor of “best book of 2003” by the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor. Her most recent novel, Strangers at the Feast was published in August 2010. The Locals Call It Rapa Nui A solitary land mass with its closest neighbor over 1,200 miles away, Easter Island is famously known for its moai… Read More →

Top 40 Albums of 2010

Before I begin, I need to make some clarifications. First, my top 40 album list obviously only includes records I have   heard. I am positive there are albums from 2010  that would make my list but I have yet to listen to them. For example, I have heard much positive press about Kanye West’s new album but I have yet to give it a full listen. Therefore, it is not on my list although its presence graces most of the lists I have seen so far. Second, this list in a way projects how I believe my musical taste ought to look. In other words, while I enjoyed blasting Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” in the car as a joke, both… Read More →

Book Review: No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Vintage International, 2005. 320 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 →

Film Review: Black Swan

Black Swan directed by Darren Aronofsky (Fox Searchlight Pictures, Protozoa Pictures, and Phoenix Pictures, R, 108 minutes.) Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. Screenplay by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz. More Beethoven, Less Danielle Steel When one labels something romantic, the modern mind conceives its definition as love, relationships, and happy endings. On the other hand, the 19th century conception of Romanticism espoused in symphonies, ballets, and stories exhibits deep-felt emotion such as love, suffering, anxiety, and death. The conception of romanticism illustrated in Black Swan resembles the classical sense of the word pointing the viewer to deeply rooted emotions and actions. Similar to previous psychological thrillers directed by Aronofsky such as Pi and Requiem for a Dream,… Read More →

Book Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2006. 350 pp) A Canadian-born dual citizen, Sara Gruen lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. With a background in technical writing, Gruen is a devoted animal lover who has written numerous books dedicated to the relationship between animals and humans. While Water for Elephants tops the best-seller list, Gruen’s books also include Riding Lessons, Flying Changes, and The Ape House. Step Right Up Water for Elephants follows the life of Jacob Jankowski, an almost Ivy League educated veterinarian working in the Depression era circus industry. Although Jacob intended to follow in his father’s footsteps as a small-town veterinarian, an unfortunate accident left him orphaned… Read More →

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye: A Novel by J.D. Salinger (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. 214 pp) Born in New York City in 1919, J.D. Salinger is famously known for his novel The Catcher in the Rye written in 1951. Although Salinger published a few works before and after this novel, the success of it led him to a reclusive lifestyle. His last public interview was granted in 1980. Salinger is also noteworthy for the legal battles he encountered around unauthorized biographies written about him. Salinger died of natural causes in January 2010. Sometimes I Feel Like Holden Caulfield The Catcher in the Rye marks the beginning of my pursuit to read books of the 20th century canon… Read More →

Film Review: The Last Station

The Last Station directed by Michael Hoffman (Egoli Tossell Film and Zephyr Films, R for strong sexual content, 112 minutes) Starring Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, and Christopher Plummer. The Last Station documents the final years of Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya Tolstoy (Helen Mirren). The plot centers on Tolstoy’s later-life philosophies such as nonviolent resistance and social justice. Most of Tolstoy’s closest advisors are pressuring the old author to redraft his will in order to give his publications to public domain. Sofya, however, becomes paranoid concerning these idealistic philosophies and worries that losing copyrights to her husband’s work would equal a return to poverty. Tolstoy’s closest confidant, Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) hires a Tolstoyan – one who… Read More →

Book Review: The Namesake

The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003. 304 pp) Born in London to Bengali immigrants, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to the United States at the young age of 3. Her first published work, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. In 2007, Hollywood adapted The Namesake into a feature film.  A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Lahiri is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Home for the Holidays? Thanksgiving introduces an exciting portion of the year. I love sleeping in, wearing pajamas into the living room, and seeing a football game on the television. The turkey is already cooking… Read More →