Book Review: Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys

Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys: Poems by D. A. Powell (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2012. 110 pp) D. A. Powell is the author of five collections of poetry, including the trilogy of Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails, and Chronic, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He has twice been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He lives in San Francisco. The Who Who are you? The defining characteristics of each person are often both varied and unusual. As humans we can all claim similar traits. We love; we laugh; we live; we die. Externally, we even define ourselves through the region in which we live. I am a Seattleite; I am Cascadian. My region… Read More →

Book Review: The Supper of the Lamb

The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon; edited by Ruth Reichl (New York: The Modern Library, 2002; originally published in 1967. 320 pp) Robert Farrar Capon is the author of numerous books on theology, cooking, family life, and, sometimes, a combination of the three. His works include Between Noon and Three; Kingdom, Grace, Judgement; and Genesis: The Movie. An Episcopal priest, Capon is the father of six children and two stepchildren, and lives on Shelter Island, New York. In Consideration of the Cookbook Don’t get me wrong; I love cookbooks. But they are a hollow medium. At its core, a cookbook is an instruction manual—many more pretty pictures, but an instruction manual nonetheless. A successful… Read More →

Book Review: Alif The Unseen

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (New York: Grove Press, 2012. 431 pp) G. Willow Wilson is an American author who divides her time between the US and Egypt. Her articles about modern religion and the Middle East have appeared in publications including The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Her memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, was named 2010 Best Book of the Year by The Seattle Times, and her comic book series, Air, was nominated for an Eisner Award. Worlds Collide Wilson, previously unbeknownst to me, is best known as a graphic novelist. Her first work of fiction is presented in her novel, Alif the Unseen. I’m not immersed by any stretch of the imagination in the graphic novel world, but I can see… Read More →

Book Review: Endpoint and Other Poems

Endpoint and Other Poems by John Updike (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 112 pp) John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. He was the father of four children and the author of more than sixty books, including novels and collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His books won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Howells Medal, among other honors. He died in… Read More →

Book Review: The Keep

The Keep: A Novel by Jennifer Egan (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. 272 pp) Born in Chicago, Jennifer Egan spent her formative years in San Francisco. She majored in English literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Then, she accepted a fellowship at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Egan has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her first novel, The Invisible Circus, became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz. Her latest book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, won the 2011 National Book Critics Award for Fiction, a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize for Fiction…. Read More →

Book Review: The Nasty Bits

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones (New York, Bloombury Publishing, 2006. 288 pp) Anthony Bourdain, born in 1956, attended Vassar College and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked as a cook and chef in many institutions strewn across the New York City map. Bourdain contributes articles to the Times, New York Times, Observer, the Face, Scotland on Sunday, and Food Arts Magazine. An addition to Kitchen Confidential, he has written two crime novels – Gone Bamboo and Bone in the Throat. Bourdain was the executive chef at Brassiere Les Halles and is currently the host of the Travel Channel program: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Bourdain resides in New York City. The Final Tour As Anthony Bourdain, traveler, culinary icon, author, and chef enters his last season of the television show No… Read More →

Book Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell (New York: Random House, 2004. 528 pp) David Mitchell is an English author most noted for his fiction. He attended University of Kent earning a degree in English and American Literature as well as an M.A. in Comparative Literature. Mitchell’s debut novel, Ghostwritten, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. His next two novels, Number9dream and Cloud Atlas found themselves on the Man Booker Prize shortlist. Cloud Atlas has been adapted into a feature film. A Kaleidoscope of Ambiguity How does it feel moments after newly opened puzzle pieces cascade out of the box? The colorful mélange sits nestled on the table—a kaleidoscope of ambiguity, the box your only clue to the end goal…. Read More →

Book Review: The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2000. 521 pp) Born in Ottawa in the autumn of 1939, Margaret Atwood grew up in Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She attained her B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto and her M.A. from Radcliffe College. Atwood has written more than 50 works of poetry, children’s fiction, fiction, and non-fiction. While she is most known for her many novels, her book, Blind Assassin, received highest acclaim winning the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Currently, she lives with Graeme Gibson in Toronto. A Narrative in Many Threads Thus begins Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. A complicated narrative mixing the autobiography of the novel’s protagonist, excerpts from Laura the sister’s novel and newspaper clippings detailing the major events in… Read More →

Book Review: Brain Rules

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina (Seattle: Pear Press, 2008. 301 pp) John Medina is a development molecular biologist and research consultant. He is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. In Pursuit of Learning  Can we, as human beings, learn better? We go through grade school, middle school, high school, college, perhaps even graduate work without ever questioning if we are learning optimally. As a person who seeks to learn continuously and realizing I won’t remember every piece of information imparted to me in my lifetime,… Read More →

Book Review: Strength to Love

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963. 192 pp) Born in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor, activist, and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. King rose to prominence during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and orchestrated the 1963 March on Washington where King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968. A Big Deal  Martin Luther King, Jr. is a big deal. I recall learning about his life and his influence on civil rights early and often in grade school. I heard his famous “I Have a Dream” speech long before I knew what it meant. King County—where… Read More →