Book Review: Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010. 576 pp) Jonathan Franzen is an American author. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in German. Franzen has received widespread acclaim for his book, The Corrections. He has won the National Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California. Realism Nut Crackers Realism is a tough nut to crack. Especially in literary fiction where the growth of the character is largely internal, too many convenient turns in a plot illustrate sloppiness and remove the suspension of disbelief. How often have you noticed a convenient plot detail in a television series where said event doesn’t… Read More →

Book Review: The Heart Goes Last

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2015. 320 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. Shoe Steppers Often when considering the experiences of others, you’ll hear the suggestion of “stepping into another’s shoes.” Such a position provides ample value as empathy emerges… Read More →

Book Review: Stag’s Leap

Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds

Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.  112 pp) Born in San Francisco, Sharon Olds graduated from Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. Olds teaches creative writing at New York University. Her work has received many awards including a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the San Francisco Poetry Center Award. 16 Stories There’s a story about how people meet. I met my wife in the union building at the University of Washington. My parents met at a Halloween party. Some relationships are an obvious result of a connection—school, church, or work. A friendship emerges; first impressions become lasting relationships. Other relationships are serendipitous. Aziz… Read More →

Album Review: Watch the Throne

Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West

Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West (Roc-A-Fella, 2011. 46 minutes) Born in Brooklyn, Jay-Z is an American rapper, record producer, and business mogul. He has won 16 Grammys. Kanye West is an artist, producer, fashion designer, and film director, born in Chicago, Illinois. He has won 22 Grammys. Liberation Means Money Liberation: a major theme in literature from marginalized groups. When you don’t have choice, when the institutions and structures seem to operate in opposition to you, your goals, and your culture as a whole, then freedom becomes the cry. Freedom to make decisions without external repercussions. Freedom to practice beliefs, customs, and rites in the open. Freedom to make a living, equal to or better than those… Read More →

Book Review: God of the Oppressed

God of the Oppressed by James Cone

God of the Oppressed by James H. Cone (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1975. 300 pp) James H. Cone is the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. Cone earned his B.A. from Philander Smith College, his M.Div. from Garrett Theological Seminary and later, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Known as the founder of black liberation theology, Dr. Cone has won the American Black Achievement Award, the Martin E. Marty Award for Public Understanding of Religion, and the Eliza Garrett Distinguished Service Award. He is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church . Isolation at Thanksgiving Do you remember early Thanksgiving dinners at the kid’s table? The feeling of being there but not being… Read More →

Film Review: Django Unchained

Django Unchained directed and written by Quentin Tarantino (The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures, and Brown 26 Productions, R, 165 minutes) Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. Revisionist History Don’t we all have the desire to rewrite history? To take back something said? Something done? Something that hurt others? What steps would you tack to right the wrongs either personally or globally? With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino certainly enjoys using the medium of film to fulfill these grand retribution schemes, but I contend that his stylistic tendencies will keep this film from winning Best Picture. Bounty Hunting The film’s eponymous character, Django (Jamie Foxx,) is a bounty hunter. He earned his freedom working with… Read More →