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 →

Film Review: Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (Affleck/Middleton Project, B Story, Big Indie Pictures, R, 137 min) Starring Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, and Lucas Hedges. Armchair Psychology Putting on my armchair psychologist bow tie, I’ll make an unfounded proclamation: we link emotional resonance to physical location. For example, we develop deep, nostalgic feelings for locations around the campus of our alma mater. Personally, my wedding location conjures feelings of love and joy. The sights, sounds, and smells of an area lodge deep in our souls. While watching the acclaimed Manchester by the Sea, I kept thinking about this phenomenon. New England Meets the Atlantic Set in New England, Manchester by the Sea depicts… Read More →

Book Review: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker (New York: Random House, 2012. 278 pp) Karen Thompson Walker was born in San Diego, California. She studied English and creative writing at UCLA and earned her MFA from Columbia University. While writing The Age of Miracles, Walker worked as a book editor for Simon & Schuster. Walker earned the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship and the Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. The Age of Youth Those early teens years are a trying time. Your leash extends and your parents no longer peer over your shoulder. Physiological and sociological changes force confrontation of new circumstances daily. It’s a time of identity. Friends come and go and… Read More →

Book Review: Aquarium

Aquarium by David Vann

Aquarium by David Vann (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015. 272 pp) David Vann’s work has earned numerous awards and has been featured in the Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, and McSweeey’s, among others. He is a former Guggenheim fellow, National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, and John L’Heureux fellow. He has earned degrees from Stanford and Cornell and currently teaches as a professor at the University of Warwick. A Roof over Your Head What would you do to put a roof over your child’s head? The prospect of passing on a legacy motivates many to great heights. But what about those people who never had a chance to get the kind of education and experience needed to… Read More →

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel by Mark Haddon (New York: Vintage, 2003. 226 pp) Mark Haddon is an English novelist educated at Merton College, Oxford. He has written numerous children’s books and his debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, won the Whitbread Award, Guardian Prize, and a Commonwealth Writers Prize. The Dreams of Our Fathers The joys of fatherhood: snuggles on Saturday morning the awe at a young mind forming as he explores a new phenomenon the odd waddle as he picks up walking speed hearing “Dad” at any point in time mimicry whether a hand motion or a facial expression the need to hold hands when he’s trying… Read More →

Book Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet: A Novel by Reif Larsen (New York: Penguin Books, 2009. 400 pp) Reif Larsen studied at Brown University and has taught at Columbia University, where he earned an M.F.A. in fiction. His debut novel, The Selected Work of T.S. Spivet was a 2010 Montana Honor Book, an IndieBound Award Finalist, and on the shortlist for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Mr. Larsen is also a filmmaker specializing in documentaries. You Gonna Diagram That? Presentations represent a core deliverable at my work. In these decks, illustrations are key. More often than not, I draft the deck in full sentences and then consider ways in which to illustrate the point. Our minds are visual. We… Read More →

Film Review: Boyhood

Boyhood

Boyhood written and directed by Richard Linklater (IFC Productions, Detour Filmproduction, R, 149 min) Starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke. Parenthood As a new parent, I’m already concerned with how quickly time passes. Having been thoroughly warned, I’ve spent the last 9 months cherishing every second with my little man—and the milestones fly past at 100 miles per hour. My boy will grow up. And it will happen faster than I will expect. This principle causes me to resonate deeply with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Boyhood Filmed for a week at a time over the course of twelve years, Boyhood tells the coming-of-age story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a six-year old boy who lives with his mother,… Read More →

Book Review: The Lowland

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahirir

The Lowland: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.  352 pp) Born in London to Bengali immigrants, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to the United States at the young age of 3. Her first published work, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. In 2007, Hollywood adapted The Namesake into a feature film.  A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Lahiri is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Reality Suspension Why do you read? One of the big reasons for me is the ability to transport into different settings, cultures, and points of view. When an author succeeds in suspending reality and… Read More →

Film Review: The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Sycamore Pictures, The Walsh Company, OddLot Entertainment, PG-13, 103 min) Starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, and Liam James. Form and Function There’s something safe in form and function. When we listen to music, we expect a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format. When we read fiction, we want to see character development and a plot with climax and resolution. There’s nothing wrong with a formula—the structure offers unified expectations to an audience. It means no surprises; it suggests a contract between creator and audience where both parties agree to go down the same path. But the tried-and-true also means a safe story. It’s… Read More →