Book Review: Unbecoming

Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Scherm (New York: Viking Press, 2015.  308 pp) Rebecca Scherm holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan, where she currently teaches. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Jezebel, Subtropics, The Hairpin, Hobart, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Fiction Writers Review. Fraud The art world has so often been plagued with subtle intricacies which to the average viewer are unnoticeable. Pen strokes, color palettes and the like tell the authoritative art expert whether or not a piece is a fake. So, too, can it be with people. Rebecca Scherm’s debut novel Unbecoming is the story of Julie from California. Or, is it Grace from Garland, Tennessee? Grace is a world class fraud. She is… Read More →

Album Review: Life Stories: The Choral Music of Eric William Barnum

Life Stories – The Choral Music of Eric Barnum by Robert Bode, Choral Arts, and Eric William Barnum (Gothic Records, 2014) Dr. Eric Barnum is Director of Choral Music at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He holds a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, an advanced degree in conducting from Minnesota State University as well as BA degrees in Composition and Vocal Performance from Bemidji State University (MN). Robert Sparks assembled Choral Arts from Seattle’s best singers for a choral concert directed by famed Swedish conductor Erik Erikson. Following the concert, the group decided to continue under Sparks’ leadership, quickly becoming Seattle’s premiere choral ensemble. In 2007, Robert Bode became Artistic Director, and in 2010 Bode and… Read More →

Book Review: The Human Body

The Human Body by Paolo Giordano, translated by Anne Milano Appel (New York: Viking Press, 2014. 318 pp) Paolo Giordano is the author of the critically acclaimed international bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, which The New York Times called “mesmerizing,” and which has been published in more than forty languages. He has a Ph.D. in particle physics and lives in Italy. Afghani Doldrums The Human Body is not what it sounds like. Upon looking at the title, one might think the book is a novel of anatomy and physiology. However, The Human Body by Paolo Giordano is a darkly comic novel inspired by the author’s two ten-day tours in Afghanistan as an embedded journalist reporting on the most recent… Read More →

Book Review: The Magician’s Land

The Magician’s Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman (New York: Viking Press, 2014. 401 pp) Born in 1969, Lev Grossman has a degree in literature from Harvard, and spent three years at Yale in the Ph.D. program in comparative literature. He writes for TIME as their book reviewer and as one of its technology writers. Codex (2004) became an international bestseller, and The Magicians (2009) was named one of the best books of 2009 by The New Yorker. In August of 2001, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He also has a wife and two daughters. Leaving Fillory Behind Our hero, Quentin Coldwater, has lost everything since the last installment of the Magician’s trilogy. His friends and his childhood world of Fillory are now restricted to him. Naturally,… Read More →

Book Review: Leaving the Sea

Leaving the Sea: Stories by Ben Marcus (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 271 pp) Ben Marcus is the author of The Age of Wire and String and Notable American Women. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Tin House, and Conjunctions. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and awards from the Creative Capital Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York, where he is on the faculty at Columbia University. Anxiety I expected Ben Marcus’ newest collection of stories to me much of the same. Marcus has made himself known as somewhat of an experimental writer, using unique narratives to portray outlandish stories. However, Marcus begins his collection of short stories with quite the… Read More →

Book Review : The Crane Wife

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness (New York: Penguin Press, 2014. 310 pp) Patrick Ness is the author of the award winning Chaos Walking Trilogy, the Costa Children’s Book Award winner, A Monster Calls, for young adults, a novel for adults called, The Crash of Hennington, and a story collection for adults, Topics About Which I Know Nothing. Ness grew up in Hawaii and Washington State and now lives in London. Enter: The Nice Guy George Duncan is an American living and working in London, much like the author himself. Duncan is forty-eight years of age and owns a small print shop. Divorced and alone, he remains affable nonetheless. His niceness is his undoing however, as no relationship he’s in lasts long enough, simply because he is “too… Read More →

Album Review: Post Tropical

Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow (Vagrant, 2014. 42 minutes) James Vincent McMorrow (b. 1983) is an Irish singer and songwriter. His debut album Early In The Morning was released in Ireland, February 2010, and in US/Europe in 2011 to widespread acclaim.  Suited for Winter Despite what the title may indicate, McMorrow’s sophomore release Post Tropical is an album perfectly suited for the winter months. Lucky for McMorrow, much of the country has been under blankets of snow and vortexes of polar doom. There is something of the stark calm of winter that McMorrow adheres to inherently, something which begs us naturally to move forward after a much needed season of calm. McMorrow, through his haunting falsetto voice, finds a way to communicate music in a way few… Read More →

Andrew’s Top Books of 2013

As the end of the year dictates, I have compiled my top reads of 2013. Before we dive into the list, I feel it’s necessary to remind readers about the process as denoted last year. 1. Yes, evaluating the best in a given year is subjective so if you disagree, great! 2. I rate fiction and nonfiction differently. To me, fiction requires an element of creativity and entertainment; I want to read art. Nonfiction, on the other hand, is evaluated on its educational qualities. Did I learn and apply the principles found in the book? Therefore, I have split lists between fiction and nonfiction. 3. Reading a book is a linear process. It takes time. Thus, I read old and… Read More →

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (New York: Harcourt, 1994. 311 pp) Daniel Keyes was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Brooklyn College. He has worked as a merchant seaman, fiction editor, high school teacher, and university professor. The author of eight books, he lives in Boca Raton, Florida. Simply Wonderful Every once and a while, I come across a book that everyone knew about and failed to tell me how wonderful it is. This is one of those books. I am saddened I didn’t find it earlier, though grateful I had the pleasure of reading it. Flowers for Algernon is simply beautiful. Through wonderful writing and the use of great character development, author Daniel… Read More →

Andrew’s Top 20 Albums of 2013

I have a theory, even if it is slightly unfounded, that when Arcade Fire took the Grammy win for Album of the Year a while back, the entire music industry changed. Suddenly loner acts and those without a record label signing them became viable artists doing more than just breaking even. I tried to limit my choices to a mere ten, but couldn’t do it. There’s a lot of good music out there. So, here are my top twenty for the year. Every day the order changes, but this is where I’m at now. 20. Lady Gaga — Artpop I have always loved Lady Gaga. Her performances border on depraved artistry, wearing meat coats and the like. Nevertheless, her music is a constant… Read More →