Book Review: Smoke

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke: A Novel by Dan Vyleta (New York: Doubleday, 2016. 448 pp) Dan Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the USA, and the UK. With writing compared often to Kafka, Dostoevsky, Hitchcock, and Nabakov, Vyleta has written numerous books to critical acclaim, including making the shortlist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the winner of the J.I. Segal Award. Sin and Sin Again The history of humanity is a continuous struggle toward understanding why humans treat each other so disastrously. Any origin story or fable attempts to deal with the negative aspects of human relations. For some, it starts with the fruit of a tree and blossoms into brother murdering brother. For others, sin… 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 →

Television Show Review: The Last Man on Earth: Season 2

The Last Man on Earth Season 2

The Last Man on Earth: Season 2 created by Will Forte (Si Fi Company, Lord Miller, 20th Century Fox Television) Starring Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Cleopatra Coleman, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Sudeikis, and Boris Kodjoe. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS* Can the End of the World Last? The extermination of humanity shouldn’t be funny. Yet, Season 1 of The Last Man on Earth took a high-concept premise about a future dystopia in the wake of a global pandemic and weaves a humorous story about self-centeredness and the need for other people. While much of its success emerges from its premise, the longevity of the series was my lasting question mark. Is it even possible to tell a… Read More →

Book Review: The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. 256 pp) Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933. One of six children, Cormac’s family moved multiple times in his childhood as his father accepted different occupations. In 1951, McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee majoring in Liberal Arts. Midway through his studies, McCarthy served in the Air Force for four years. After his service, McCarthy returned to college, writing his first short stories. In 1959 and 1960, he won the Ingram-Merrill Award for Creative Writing. Mccarthy’s first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1965. Several years, grants, and fellowships later, McCarthy published Suttree, Blood Meridian, and All the Pretty Horses marking his rise in literary acclaim…. Read More →

Book Review: No Thanks

No Thanks by E. E. Cummings

No Thanks by E. E. Cummings (New York: Liveright, 1998; originally published in 1935. 288 pp) Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, E. E. Cummings was a poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. He was among the most influential, widely read, and revered modernist poets. His many awards included an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Bollingen Prize. Fueling Art The intersection between creativity and philosophy functions as the most efficient fuel for art. Our view of the world and the way we express our beliefs about it translate remarkably well into deep and beautiful art. Alternatively, art also works well as criticism. Those positions—philosophical, political, theological—can become rather absurd when taken to logical conclusions. Think Orwell’s work… Read More →

Album Review: Mosquito

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Dress Up, Interscope, 2013. 47 minutes) Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an indie rock band from New York City consisting of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase. The band has released 4 studio albums, 3 of which have been nominated for Grammys. Mosquito Metaphors Have you ever felt like your significant other is a parasite? Have you experienced those days where you continue to give and he continues to take? Is it frustrating trying to balance the ship? Is it even worth continuing? Whether you’ve been married for 30 years or have only been dating for a couple months, relationships ebb and flow. Thus, it can be easy to liken relationships to warfare. Someone lives… Read More →

Book Review: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate, Where Pen Meets Paper, Donovan Richards

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Maté (Berkely: North Atlantic Books, 2008. 520 pp) Born in 1944 in Budapest, Hungary, Gabor Maté and his family moved to Canada in 1956. Maté earned a B.A. in English from the University of British Columbia and a teaching degree from Simon Fraser University. Later, he returned to school to become a medical doctor. Dr. Maté ran a successful family practice in East Vancouver before taking a position in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood. Maté has published 4 books and has earned an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University and an Honorary Degree from the University of Northern British Columbia. Dr. Maté recently was appointed Adjunct Professor in… Read More →

Book Review: Hikikomori and the Rental Sister

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister Where Pen Meets Paper

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel by Jeff Backhaus (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2013. 256 pp) Jeff Backhaus has been a cook, an art director, and a professional pilot. He has lived and worked in Korea, and now lives in New York. Etymologically Speaking Etymologically speaking, agoraphobia stands for a “fear of the marketplace.” By definition, the marketplace is a crowded, expansive, and anxiety-inducing space. Everyone goes to the market. We all have daily needs; a centralized space answers to those needs; we all frequent these spaces as a result. Conceptually, I understand agoraphobia. If you feel as if the world is a burden and you are unsure of how to interact socially, why go outside? Why even try?… Read More →

Book Review: Ghana Must Go

Ghana Must Go, Where Pen Meets Paper, Book Review

Ghana Must Go: A Novel by Taiye Selasi (New York: The Penguin Press, 2013. 336 pp) Taiye Selasi was born in London and raised in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale and an M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford. Ghana Must Go is her debut novel. She lives in Rome. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Penguin Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. On Death The funeral, a tried-and-true literary device. Whether the desired… Read More →

Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower written and directed by Stephen Chbosky (Summit Entertainment, Mr. Mudd, Lionsgate, PG-13, 102 minutes) Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. Sometimes Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough Context matters. How often have you experienced a work of art—whether music, film, letters, or sculpture—and recognized the skill and value of the piece without really liking it? Most of the time, this negative reaction comes down to preference. You might understand Salvador Dalí, but perhaps your eye moves toward the softer impressionistic colors of Monet. Perhaps you recognize the skill of Stevie Ray Vaughan but you hate the whiny sounds emerging from his amplifier. Sometimes, it all comes down to context. You’re not in a rap… Read More →