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 →

Book Review: Calypso

Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso by David Sedaris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2018. 272 pp) David Sedaris is an American humorist and the author of Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, among many others. He graduated from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in West Sussex, England. When You’re Here, You’re Here When you’re here, your family. Or as a comedian suggested in his faux AI take on Olive Garden, when you’re here, you’re here. The sentiment from either slogan pushes for the value of place when building relationships. For families, aging scatters family members to the wind. Kids grow up, leave their parents, chart their own path. So, then… Read More →

Book Review: Out in the Open

Out in the Open by Jesus Carrasco

Out in the Open: A Novel by Jesús Carrasco, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (New York: Riverhead Books, 2015, originally published in 2013. 240 pp) Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz, Spain, and now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. He received the European Union Prize for Literature in 2016. Out in the Open, his debut novel, was a bestseller in Spain, has been published in twenty-five languages, and is the winner of many international awards, including an English PEN award. Margaret Jull Costa has been translating Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American fiction—including authors like Javier Marías—for more than twenty years. Every Story Needs Salt and Pepper The motifs sitting just underneath the surface of a story tell us how to feel…. Read More →

Book Review: Pops

Pops by Michael Chabon

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon (New York: Harper, 2018. 144 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabon was born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. The Hardest Job Parenting is the most challenging thing I’ve ever set off to accomplish. While my second son may have… Read More →

Book Review: The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher: A Novel by Tom Rachman (New York: Viking, 2018. 352 pp) Tom Rachman was born in London in 1974 and raised in Vancouver. He attended the University of Toronto and Columbia Journalism School, then worked as a journalist for the Associated Press in New York and Rome for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. His first novel, The Imperfectionists, was an international bestseller, translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in London. Art of Personality What holds artistic value? And what doesn’t? Where is the line between genuine beauty worthy of cultural esteem and something that is meaningless? Do we make art for art’s sake, or must it perform some economic function? And even more, does it take… Read More →