Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 352 pp.) Born in Chicago, Jennifer Egan spent her formative years in San Francisco. She majored in English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Then, she accepted a fellowship at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Egan has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her first novel, The Invisible Circus, became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz. Her latest book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, won the 2011 National Book Critics Award for Fiction, a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize… Read More →

Album Review: Wasting Light

Wasting Light by Foo Fighters (RCA, 2011. 48 minutes) Foo Fighters are an American rock band formed by lead singer and guitarist, Dave Grohl. Established in the wake of Nirvana’s end, the band’s current members are Grohl, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, and Pat Smear. Of the seven studio albums released, six of them have been nominated for a Grammy Award and three – There Is Nothing Left to Lose, One by One, and Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – have won Best Rock Album awards. Rock-Star-Ness As a junior high student learning guitar, I enjoyed spinning my portable CD player with headphones enveloping me like ear muffs and imagining that I was playing in a band in front… Read More →

Book Review: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1962. 220 pp) Born in 1917 as John Burgess Wilson, this English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator, and critic published under the name, Anthony Burgess. Though he dismissed it as a lesser work, Burgress is best known for A Clockwork Orange, more than likely due to the controversial Stanley Kubrick movie of the same name. In his youth, Burgess attended Xaverian College and later studied at Victoria University of Manchester receiving a B.A. in English. In addition to his publications, Burgess composed many musical pieces in his free time. During his career, Burgess was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and earned honorary degrees… Read More →

Book Review: God and the Evil of Scarcity

God and the Evil of Scarcity: Moral Foundations of Economic Agency by Albino Barrera, O.P. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005. 272 pp) Albino Barrera teaches economics and theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to God and the Evil of Scarcity, he wrote Modern Catholic Social Documents and Political Economy (Georgetown University Press) in 2001. It Begins with Malthus For Albino Barrera, God and the Evil of Scarcity is essentially a response to the Malthusian understanding of theodicy.  While most consider resource scarcity and population control when Thomas Malthus comes to mind, Barrera explores Malthus’ foundational views of God that lead him to his conclusions on resource scarcity. Simply put, Barrera understands Malthusian theodicy as a source… Read More →

Television Show Review: Modern Family: Season 2

Modern Family: Season 2 created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd (20th Century Fox Television and Lloyd-Levitan Productions) Starring Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Eric Stonestreet. Base Humor, Smart Writing Disclaimer: Modern Family is my favorite comedy on television at the moment. Where most sit-coms repeat tired scripts of “character A” lying to “character B” with hilarity ensuing, the writers of Modern Family connected low brow humor with humorous references that required a certain amount of intelligence. Stated differently, this show is the unusual comedy that mixes base humor with smart writing. Although the consistency of each episode varies from week to week, Season 2 of Modern Family reminds me of Seinfeld in… Read More →

Book Review: The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (New York: Scribner, 1926. 251 pp) Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1899, Ernest Hemingway began writing in 1917 for The Kansas City Star. He served as an ambulance driver during World War I and moved to Paris in 1921. While in Europe, Hemingway associated with a group of notable expatriates such as Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Ford Madox Ford. Noted for his terse prose, Hemingway’s fiction won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 and his work, The Old Man and the Sea, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. He died in Ketchum, Idaho on July 2, 1961. The Frailty of Human Relationships It is said, “You… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Office

The Office: Season 7 created by Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant (Reveille Productions, NBC Universal Telecom, and Deedle-Dee Productions) Starring Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Steve Carell. Jumping the Shark When Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis in the premier of Happy Days: Season 5, a new idiom was born. Signifying the moment when a television show moves beyond the signature characteristics that made it a hit, jumping the shark occurs in every television series if the station allows the show to air long enough. While some shows choose to end early in order to maintain creative integrity, other shows increase a character’s unique traits in order to capture the laughter of a… Read More →

Book Review: God the Economist

God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economy by M. Douglas Meeks (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989. 272 pp.) Currently the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair in Wesleyan Studies and Theology at Vanderbilt University, M. Douglas Meeks is a renowned researcher on the relation of Christian doctrine to economic, social, and political theory. Dr. Meeks earned both his B.D. and Ph.D. from Duke University and studied as a Fulbright Fellow at Tübingen University. In his previous appointment, he served as the dean and professor of systematic theology at Wesley Theological Seminary. Dr. Meeks has authored 16 books and numerous scholarly articles. He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church serving as the Director of Wesleyan Studies and the… Read More →

Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender (New York: Doubleday, 2010. 304 pp.) Author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, a New York Times Notable Book; An Invisible Sign of My Own, an L.A. Times pick of the year; and Willful Creatures, Aimee Bender lives in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California. Her most recent book, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, won the SCIBA award for best fiction and an Alex Award. Her short fiction has been printed in many publications allowing her to receive two Puschart prizes. A Case for Food and Family Food is one of the most basic needs for human beings, the symbol of… Read More →

Album Review: Build a Rocket Boys

Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow (Downtown/Cooperative Music, 2011. 52 minutes) Formed in 1990 in Manchester, England, Elbow is a successful British rock band. The band is comprised of Guy Garvey (lead vocals), Mark Potter (guitar), Craig Potter (keyboards), Peter Turner (bass), and Richard Jupp (drums). Although Elbow has released 5 albums in their career, The Seldom Seen Kid received the most notoriety after Elbow won the 2008 Mercury Music Prize. Build a Rocket Boys is Elbow’s latest release. Looking Back While I am still considered young, I’ve spent enough time on earth to have memories both of joy and regret. Looking back at the route my life encountered, my memories flicker like a vintage slideshow. No matter the circumstantial… Read More →