Book Review: The Nix

The Nix by Nathan Hill

The Nix: A Novel by Nathan Hill (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 640 pp) Born in Iowa, Nathan Hill earned his BA in English from the University of Iowa and his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Hill’s debut novel, The Nix, was a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times. Hill’s writing has been published in The Iowa Review, Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Denver Quarterly, and Fiction. Hill is an Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas and lives in Naples, Florida. History Written through Familial Relationship That person is someone’s daughter. The phrase often emerges in conversation where one party hopes to place… 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: Here I Am

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Here I Am: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016. 592 pp) Born in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Safran Foer attended Princeton University earning a degree in philosophy. While at Princeton, Foer developed a senior thesis around the life of his Holocaust surviving grandfather. Eventually, this thesis became Foer’s first published book titled, Everything Is Illuminated. The book received critical acclaim winning the National Jewish Book Award and a Guardian First Book Award. Eventually, the novel was adapted into a film starring Elijah Wood. Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel garnered both praise and derision for its use of 9/11 as a narrative tool and its use of visual writing. Foer… Read More →

Film Review: Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Brooklyn written by Nick Hornby, directed by John Crowley (Wildgaze Films, BBC Films, Parallel Film Productions, PG-13, 117 min) Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Conan, Jim Broadbent, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, and Domhnall Gleeson. A Nation of Immigrants We are a nation of immigrants. The farther we move from our nation’s inception, the hazier this fact becomes. But truthfully, the majority of the American population can trace its roots back to a voyage across the Atlantic. On my father’s side, the dominant story establishes itself with early roots. A Thomas Jefferson Richards braced tempestuous waters in the chilly Atlantic on a “Mayflower.” In my younger years, I wanted to believe TJR represented the first pilgrims. I haven’t done enough digging for… Read More →

Book Review: LaRose

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich (New York: Harper, 2016. 384 pp) Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. She is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and the National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother’s Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche. Woke Context plays an important role in the consumption of art. Outside of one-off art installations or performances, a reaction to any specific art form may transform over the years. NeverEnding Story played differently in my childhood… Read More →

Book Review: Home

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (New York: Picador, 2008. 336 pp) Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Marilynne Robinson earned her B.A. at Pembroke College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has received numerous awards, notably the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize, and a National Humanities Medal. True to Identity Marilynne Robinson gets all the props. In her small, fictitious town of Gilead, Robinson conjures the truth of humanity in all its frailty and detail. When considering a story, plot often represents the easy portion. A death propels the protagonist toward the end… 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 →

Television Show Review: Bloodline: Season 1

Bloodline Season 1

Bloodline: Season 1 created by Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman (Netflix, KZK Productions, Sony Pictures Television) Starring Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbet Leo Butz, Sissy Spacek, and Sam Shepard. A New Kind of Show If you haven’t logged on to Netflix lately, you’ll be surprised at the amount of Netflix-specific programming. The manner in which content releases creates new viewing experiences. The first hint at this new frontier occurred with House of Cards as the whole season released at once caused binge watchers to… well… binge. The release-the-season-all-at-once strategy allows the writers and producers to reconsider how to approach a show. While Bloodline isn’t the binge-watching cocaine addiction of its Netflix brethren, the medium provides… Read More →

Book Review: Swamplandia!

Swamplandia! by Karen Rusell

Swamplandia!: A Novel by Karen Russell (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 336 pp) Karen Russell is an American novelist and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” She received her B.A. in Spanish from Northwestern University and earned her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Needless Danger Do you recall the needless danger of your youth? Did you run away from home only to make it as far as your tree house in the backyard? Did you decide to make a cross-country trip over summer break with your friends without a dollar in your pocket? I’m sure most of us did something stupid when we were younger. Do you remember why? There seems to be an aura of youth where decisions… 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 →