Book Review: Fire Sermon

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Fire Sermon: A Novel by Jamie Quatro (New York: Grove Press, 2018. 224 pp) Jamie Quatro holds an MA in English from the College of William and Mary, and an MFA in fiction from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, The Kenyon Review, VQR, and Agni. Her debut collection, I Want to Show You More, gained critical acclaim and Fire Sermon is her debut novel. Quatro teaches in the MFA program at Sewanee, The University of the South. She lives with her husband and four children in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Hooked on a Feeling What’s the theological significance of a feeling? What weight should we place on those gut instincts—the emotions that… Read More →

Film Review: Coco

Coco

Coco written by Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz, directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, PG, 105 min) Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Herbert Siguenza. Life Transportation My favorite thing about reading fiction? The ability to transport into the life of another human being. There’s something special about a novel’s internalized point of view that builds empathy for people too often labeled as “other.” Visual storytelling is a little more difficult. Humans inherently read their unconscious biases into what they see. No matter how pious, virtuous, or philanthropical someone might be, too often a viewer can’t move beyond a skin tone. This sad reality, from… Read More →

Book Review: Pops

Pops by Michael Chabon

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon (New York: Harper, 2018. 144 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabon was born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. The Hardest Job Parenting is the most challenging thing I’ve ever set off to accomplish. While my second son may have… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Americans: Season 6

The Americans Season 6

The Americans: Season 6 created by Joseph Weisberg (FX Networks, Amblin Television, DreamWorks Television) Starring Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Noah Emmerich, Costa Ronin, Lev Gorn, Brandon J. Dirden, and Margo Martindale. The Typical Script The anti-hero drama follows a tried-and-true script. Main character breaks bad, for certain clearly defined reasons. The viewer can sympathize with the anti-hero’s position. If written well, the anti-hero possesses rock-solid motivations and even though a viewer might cringe at the challenging elements of the character (you know, murder et al), the viewer roots for the anti-hero even if this person is “bad.” Given this script, the conclusion of such narrative must include just desserts. If the anti-hero doesn’t pay for his… Read More →

Film Review: The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner written by Anita Doron and Deborah Ellis and directed by Nora Twomey (Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon, Mélusine Productions, PG-13, 94 min) Starring Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgaus, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Badshah, and Ali Kazmi. A Hypothetical Nightmare Imagine for a second a hypothetical nightmare. You, by your appearance alone, are unable to enter the public sphere. The marketplace, the agora where locals buy and sell goods is off limits. What would you do, especially if the government does little to support the marginalized and the least of these? Would you risk punishment or death to find food? Or would you wither away at home, hoping for charity? Fortunately, many people in America never need to… Read More →

Film Review: A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story written and directed by David Lowery (A24, Sailor Bear, Zero Trans Fats Productions, Ideaman Studios, R, 92 min) Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. I Will Follow You into the Dark Reflections on the afterlife can leave unsettling inferences unsaid. If heaven is more than just a place on earth, then what will we do? With whom will we spend time? How does a consciousness known only in the linear encounter and operate in the infinite? In my younger years, I always feared the afterlife my faith tradition composed. The notion of sitting in God’s glory and worshipping forever seems utterly dull. But, compared to eternal damnation, I guess a boring existence is an upgrade? The ghost… Read More →

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 →