Album Review: Kiss Each Other Clean

Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine (Warner Bros. Records, 2011. 44 minutes) Iron & Wine is the stage named of songwriter Sam Beam. Born in South Carolina, Beam now resides in Austin, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University and received an MFA degree from Florida State University. Beam signed with the record label, Sub Pop, and  subsequently releasing his first three records – The Creek Drank the Cradle, Our Endless Numbered Days, and The Shepherd’s Dog. The current record is his first on Warner Bros. Records. Traffic Jam; Got More Cars Than a Beach Got Sand For some reason, Dave Matthews receives a disproportionately high amount of hatred from younger generations of music lovers…. Read More →

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1960. 376 pp) Born in 1926, Harper Lee is an author best known for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although this novel was her only published work, its longstanding success contributed to Lee winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Lee attended Huntingdon College for one year before attending the University of Alabama. In the wake of success, Lee has accepted numerous honorary degrees. She currently splits time between New York City and Monroeville, Alabama. Just Because We Can Share the Same Water Fountain Doesn’t Mean We Are Sharing the Same Water Fountain According to a recent New York Times project, North Seattle is predominantly white… Read More →

Album Review: The King Is Dead

The King Is Dead by the Decemberists (Capitol Records, 2011. 41 minutes) The Decemberists are a folk band located in Portland, Oregon. Led by Colin Meloy and backed by Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, and John Moen, the band writes songs with a foundation in storytelling. Previous releases The Crane Wife and The Hazards of Love, are classified as concept albums and display many progressive rock elements. The Decemberists originally signed to Olympia-based record label, Kill Rock Stars in 2003. In 2005, Capitol Records signed the band and distributed the band’s last three records. In Green Pastures Fresh off of two concept albums, the Decemberists return with a straight-up, Americana-influenced folk record. The King Is Dead neglects the idea… Read More →

Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X: A Novel by Keigo Higashino, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander (New York: Minotaur Books, 2011. 304 pp) Born in Osaka and currently living in Tokyo, Keigo Higashino is a bestselling Japanese author. He is the winner of the Edogawa Rampo Prize and the Mystery Writers of Japan, Inc. Prize. Alexander O. Smith translates novels, manga, and video games. He has been nominated for the Eisner Award and won the ALA’s Batchelder Award for his translation of Miyuki Miyabe’s Brave Story. He lives with his family in Vermont. Telegraphed Influences I enjoy Mumford and Sons but they bother me. Mumford and Sons is a Grammy nominated music group from London, England. Their… Read More →

Book Review: Room

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010. 336 pp) Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin, Ireland to Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended University College Dublin earning first-class honors in English and French. Later, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. In addition to Room, she has written the Sealed Letter, Landing, Touchy Subjects, Life Mask, the Woman who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Slammerkin, Kissing the Witch, Hood, and Stirfry. Donoghue lives in Ontario, Canada with her family. All the Pretty Colors Consider infrared and ultraviolet light. We know it exists, yet the human eye is unable to perceive it. If we could view these portions of the spectrum, what would it… Read More →

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 →