Film Review: The Florida Project

The Florida Project

The Florida Project written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch and directed by Sean Baker (A24, Cre Film, Freestyle Picture Company, June Pictures, R, 111 min) Starring Brooklynn Prince, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Milk, Josie Olivio, Valeria Cotto, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, and Mela Murder. The Innocence of Childhood vs. The Horrors of Being Poor I think my son gets bored some weekends. Whether it’s too hot or too cold, raining, or what-not, we don’t always make it outside, or even if we do, not to the extent my son might wish. In these times of boredom, his imagination runs wild, which can be fun to watch. But I bet he’d likely want to do something more interesting. Between safety and… Read More →

Book Review: There There

There There by Tommy Orange

There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 300 pp) Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing By Writers Fellow. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California. Birthday Expeditions Recently on a birthday expedition, my wife and I played tourist for a day and ventured to the Seattle waterfront. A changing city, the waterfront operates at the front edges of its own transformation, a tunnel underneath burrowing to replace the dangers of a viaduct highway. A… Read More →

Television Show Review: Flint Town

Flint Town

Flint Town created by Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper, and Jessica Dimmock (Netflix, ZC/DC, Anonymous Content) It’s a Big World After All It can be so easy to label that which is different as other. The vagaries of life require our focus. Work, family, play. It can be easy to see the world only as large as the number of Facebook friends. But, we live in a big world. And the people in that world work and recreate. But they are also different, distant. So, by distance and by tradition these people become separate, not like us. A Window into the Life of Another Flint Town is a fascinating documentary because it shines a light on two subsets easy to define… Read More →

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: American Honey

American Honey

American Honey written and directed by Andrea Arnold (A24, Parts and Labor, British Film Institute, Film4, R, 163 min) Starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, and Dakota Powers. A Suburbanite’s Dance with Poverty My closest dance with poverty waltzed through my life in my early twenties. Mind you, poverty in the most white, suburbanized approach to the word. Even during my lowest earning periods, parents possessed a knack for encouraging currency toward my empty coffers, let alone the fail-safe of an exhibit-quality room waiting for me were I ever to require lodging again (I did). As such, the suburban white… 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 →

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: Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer created by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos (Synthesis Films, Netflix) Starring Steven Avery. Behind Bars I haven’t spent much of my waking tine daydreaming about what it would be like to live my life behind bars. Prison remains an ethereal concept. I know “bad” people are there; I realize a disproportionate number of inmates emerge from low socio-economic status. In truth, I don’t proceed on a daily basis with any level of fear about breaking the law and the corresponding need to do time. Aside from a riveting story of true crime, Making a Murderer renders me apart because of the way it portrays systemic issues in the judicial system that can lead to broken outcomes seeped… Read More →

Book Review: A Marker To Measure Drift

A Marker to Measure Drift: A Novel by Alexander Maksik (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. 222 pp) Alexander Maksik is the author of the novel You Deserve Nothing. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his writing has appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, Harvard Review, The New York Times Magazine, Salon, and Narrative Magazine, among others, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Lost and Stories The popular television show, Lost, has eternally changed the way in which stories are told in the Western culture. Thousands tuned in to see a plane crash, only to find that was only the beginning. A mystery unraveled, piece by piece, until its finality. We were captivated for six years, only to be disappointed… Read More →

Book Review: NW

NW by Zadie Smith

NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith (New York: The Penguin Press, 2012. 416 pp) Zadie Smith was born in London. She went to King’s College, Cambridge University. Smith has written four novels and earned multiple awards including, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, the Commonwealth Writers’ Best Book Award, and the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is a tenured professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University. The Power of Place The power of place reverberates much further than any of us dare to admit. While we all hold unique personalities, the broad regions and specific communities around which we orbit influence us profoundly. This reality causes people to offer broad stereotypes for different regions. For… Read More →