Book Review: Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (New York: Knopf, 2016. 320 pp) Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. She lives in Berkley, California. Ancestry There’s a scene from the year’s best new television series that sticks with me. Atlanta is amazing. Take my word for it. Anyway, Earn (Donald Glover), the protagonist—if we can accurately label such a character in this series—visits a party in a well-to-do neighborhood. The husband and wife operate in the elite stratosphere of Atlanta culture. The white husband considers himself a connoisseur of African culture,… Read More →

Book Discussion: The Jungle

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (New York: Penguin Books, 2006; originally published in 1906. 464 pp) Upton Sinclair is an American author born in 1878. He wrote close to 100 books during his career and later unsuccessfully ran for Congress. Sinclair won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943 and died at the age of 90 in 1968. An Overview Upton Sinclair’s classic, The Jungle, highlights the poor working conditions of the meatpacking industry at the dawn of the 20th century. The principal character of the novel is Jurgis Rudkus, a recent immigrant from Lithuania seeking the American Dream in the outskirts of Chicago. Jurgis and his family find employment at a slaughterhouse but soon discover the deck stacked against them. The… 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 →

Film Review: Lincoln

Lincoln written by Tony Kushner and Doris Kearns Goodwin, directed by Steven Spielberg (DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Reliance Entertainment, PG-13, 150 minutes) Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tommy Lee Jones. The Suspension of Disbelief There’s something odd that occurs for A-list superstars. There comes a point in the actor’s life where, no matter the role, the actor overshadows the character. When Brad Pitt stars in a movie, we are watching Brad Pitt playing a character. The real-world Brad Pitt seeps into the character. Pitt’s relationship with Angelina Jolie, his outspoken views on social justice, and his constant appearances in the tabloids become a part of the film. We can’t help ourselves. That’s what popular… Read More →

Film Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter written by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Productions, Bazelevs Production, Tim Burton Productions, R, 105 minutes) Starring  Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper. “History prefers legends to men; it prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle and forgets the blood. Whatever history remembers of me, if it remembers anything at all, it should only be a fraction of the truth, for whatever else I am, a husband, a lawyer, a president, I shall always think of myself as a man who struggled against darkness” – Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter Why Not? I watched Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter because it was close to Halloween, and it seemed like a not-so-serious movie that I could “enjoy”… Read More →