Book Review: A Manual for Cleaning Women

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 432 pp) Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Her stories are inspired by her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons. Sober and writing steadily by the 1990s, she took a visiting writer’s post at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994 and was soon promoted to associate professor. In 2001, in failing health, she moved to… Read More →

Book Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N. K Jemisin

The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth Book One by N. K. Jemisin (New York: Orbit Books, 2015. 512 pp) N. K. Jemisin is the first author in the genre’s history to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo awards, all for her Broken Earth Trilogy. Her work has also won the Nebula, Locus, and Goodreads Choice awards. She is currently a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and she has been an instructor for the Clarion and Clarion West writing workshops. The Holocene It snowed recently. The kids stayed home for many days. We had cabin fever. End of short story. But for the purpose of this review, let’s talk about weather and climate. Too often, commentary about the… Read More →

Book Review: John Henry Days

John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead

John Henry Days: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (New York: Doubleday, 2001. 400 pp) Colson Whitehead was born in 1969 and raised in Manhattan. He attended Harvard College and afterward he began working as a reviewer for The Village Voice. Out of the gate, Whitehead’s fiction gained acclaim when his first novel, The Intuitionist, won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award. His work has earned him the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Also, Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. The Legend The legend of John Henry remains resonant after all these years. A man, at the peak of his occupational powers faces the risk and uncertainty of the… Read More →

Book Review: Doughnut Economics

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth

Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017. 320 pp) Kate Raworth is an economist that teaches at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. She has a BA in politics, philosophy, and economics, and an MSc in economics for development, both from Oxford University. Whiteboarding Within the rhythms of my current role, I meet daily with my fellow team members to strategize and create deliverables for our clients. These working sessions often involve whiteboarding our ideas. Having a handful of completed projects under the belt, I’ve come to see how valuable that whiteboard becomes when a group of people are trying to solve a problem. It’s true, a… Read More →

Book Review: Nocturnes

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 240 pp) Born in 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan, Kazuo Ishiguro moved with his family to England in 1960. Ishiguro attended the University of Kent receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and continued his education at the University of East Anglia obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing in 1980. A celebrated novelist, Ishiguro has been nominated four times for the Man Booker Prize, winning it in 1989 for his work, The Remains of the Day. Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, was adapted to a full-length film featuring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. In 2017, Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature…. Read More →

Book Review: The Idiot

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The Idiot: A Novel by Elif Batuman (New York: Penguin Press, 2017. 432 pp) Elif Batuman holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Stanford University. She has been a writer in residence at Koҫ University in Istanbul, the Sidney Harmen Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College, and a fellow at the Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars at the New York Public Library. Her work has been published in n+1, and The New Yorker. Freshman Feelings Freshman year represents the nexus between adulthood with its responsibility and adolescence with its singularity of the moment. For those of us seeing increasing space between the present and those college years, that brief era feels like the glory days. These early moments outside the parent’s… Read More →

Book Review: No-No Boy

No-No Boy by John Okada

No-No Boy: A Novel by John Okada (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014; originally published in 1957. 282 pp) John Okada was born in Seattle in 1923. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, attended the University of Washington and Columbia University, and died of a heart attack at the age of 47. No-No Boy is his only published novel. Who Wore It Best? There’s an age-old debate between those that did it first and those that mastered it. Often, the innovator lacks the technical skills of the master, but the master hasn’t done something original, he or she just has done it better. So, when handing out a superlative, how should the judge dictate between that… Read More →

Book Review: Conversational Design

Conversational Design by Erika Hall

Conversational Design by Erika Hall (New York: A Book Apart, 2018. 134 pp) Erika Hall has been working in web design and development since the late twentieth century. In 2001, she cofounded Mule Design Studio, where she leads the strategy consulting practice. Her enthusiasm for evidence-based decision-making led her to write Just Enough Research. She speaks frequently to international audiences on topics ranging from collaboration and design research to effective interface language. Her current talks explore the limits of using quantitative data to make design decisions. Computer Talk It feels like a couple of years ago society hit a fulcrum, and conversation shifted dramatically. Where communication between people often occurred verbally, communication with machines happened largely through code or writing…. Read More →

Book Review: There There

There There by Tommy Orange

There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 300 pp) Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing By Writers Fellow. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California. Birthday Expeditions Recently on a birthday expedition, my wife and I played tourist for a day and ventured to the Seattle waterfront. A changing city, the waterfront operates at the front edges of its own transformation, a tunnel underneath burrowing to replace the dangers of a viaduct highway. A… Read More →

Book Review: Fire Sermon

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Fire Sermon: A Novel by Jamie Quatro (New York: Grove Press, 2018. 224 pp) Jamie Quatro holds an MA in English from the College of William and Mary, and an MFA in fiction from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, The Kenyon Review, VQR, and Agni. Her debut collection, I Want to Show You More, gained critical acclaim and Fire Sermon is her debut novel. Quatro teaches in the MFA program at Sewanee, The University of the South. She lives with her husband and four children in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Hooked on a Feeling What’s the theological significance of a feeling? What weight should we place on those gut instincts—the emotions that… Read More →