Book Review: Pigeon English

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Pigeon English: A Novel by Stephen Kelman (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 288 pp) Stephen Kelman was born in Luton in 1976. Pigeon English, his first novel, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Desmond Elliot Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He lives in St. Albans. Existential Fears of Parenthood There’s a list of Oscar-nominated films piling up in the queue. The reasons are many. We work; we try to make dinner; scarcely a minute passes without the air molecules punctured from another exhort: “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Look at me!” Down the list of reasons for which we tend not to watch movies exists a fear. Put differently, many films place children in perilous circumstances. While such… Read More →

Book Review: Frog Music

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Frog Music: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 410 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. Describing History The preservation of history requires detail. Historians often wax poetically around the systems and institutions of history. The historian asks big questions, such as, what socioeconomic issues constitute causes for the… Read More →

Book Review: Tenth of December

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders (New York: Random House, 2013. 288 pp) MacArthur “Genuis Grant” fellow George Saunders is the acclaimed author of several collections of short stories, including Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a collection of essays, a book for children, and a new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University. From Long-Form Narrative to Short Story Over the years, my previously devoted followers—”the devoted few,” might have noticed a trend to my reviewing habits. My reading consumption skews toward the novel. I review a book of poetry here and there, but largely my mental capacity focuses on long-form narrative. Certainly, elements of this focus coincide with my… Read More →

Book Review: High Dive

High Dive: A Novel by Jonathan Lee (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 336 pp) Jonathan Lee is a British writer whose recent fiction has appeared in Tin House, Granta, and Narrative, among other magazines. High Dive is his first novel to be published in the United States. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is an editor at the literary journal A Public Space and a contributing editor for Guernica. Tick Tick Tick The ticking time bomb represents a compelling metaphor. If a story opens the door to a timed explosive, the resulting narratives and character development exist in half-life. How much does it really matter when everything explodes? Some stories establish the time bomb narrative in subtle ways. A… Read More →

Book Review: The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright (New York: Harper One, 1999. 306 pp) Marcus Borg was a New Testament scholar, theologian, and author. Borg was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a major figure in historical Jesus scholarship. Borg attended Concordia College as an undergraduate. He studied at Union Seminary before matriculating at Mansfield College, Oxford, earning an M.Th. and D.Phil. He retired as Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and died in 2015. N.T. Wright is a leading New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired bishop. He earned his B.A. from Exeter College and his D.D. from University of Oxford. After retiring as the Bishop of… Read More →

Book Review: Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017. 240 pp) Mohsin Hamid is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and the essay collection Discontent and Its Civilizations. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have won or been short-listed for numerous prizes, including the Man Booker Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, and the Betty Trask Award. Hamid’s essays and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications. Born in Lahore, he… Read More →

Book Review: To the Bright Edge of the World

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 424 pp) Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel, The Snow Child, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and an international bestseller published in twenty-six languages. A former bookseller and newspaper reporter, she was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. Magic I’ve never felt more like a magician than in my early iPhone years around my grandparents. When visiting their domicile, the juxtaposition between the phone desk with a decades-old phone matched with the rolodesk-style address book. This picture paints a stark contrast to the sleek super computer in the pocket. Want to see a… Read More →

Book Review: Between Heaven and Mirth

Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by James Martin, SJ (New York: Harper One, 2011. 272 pp) Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America Magazine, and bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. Father Martin has written for many publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he is a regular commentator in the national and international media. He has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, as well as in venues ranging from NPR’s Fresh Air, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, and PBS’s NewsHour to Comedy Central’s… Read More →

Book Review: Pattern Recognition

Patter Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition: A Novel by William Gibson (New York: Putnam, 2003. 362 pp) William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction novelist. A pioneer in the genre of “cyberpunk,” Gibson has earned numerous awards including the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the Ditmar Award, the Seiun Award, and the Prix Aurora Award. Form and the Unreliable Narrator Sometimes I take minor joy in the serendipitous connections between my reading and television consumption habits. Currently, I’m diving into Mr. Robot, the critically acclaimed hacker drama. Taking a chapter out of the cult classic, Fight Club, Mr. Robot uses an unreliable narrator to question toxic masculinity and the expectations of the dominant culture. With visual cues corresponding to… Read More →

Book Review: The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty

The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely (New York: Harper Perennial, 2012. 318 pp) Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His work has been featured in many outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and others. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Sumi, and their two children, Amit and Neta. We’ve All Stolen Something Who among us hasn’t stolen a pen from work? The writing instrument, ball-point gliding against paper, emitting tones of black or blue, has a cost…. Read More →