Book Review: The Nix

The Nix by Nathan Hill

The Nix: A Novel by Nathan Hill (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 640 pp) Born in Iowa, Nathan Hill earned his BA in English from the University of Iowa and his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Hill’s debut novel, The Nix, was a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction from the Los Angeles Times. Hill’s writing has been published in The Iowa Review, Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Denver Quarterly, and Fiction. Hill is an Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas and lives in Naples, Florida. History Written through Familial Relationship That person is someone’s daughter. The phrase often emerges in conversation where one party hopes to place… Read More →

Book Review: Plot & Structure

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell (Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 2004. 240 pp) James Scott Bell attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and studied writing with Raymond Carver. He graduated from the University of Southern California law school. He teaches novel writing at Pepperdine University and has published numerous articles and books in many genres. New Year’s Resolution While many will wake up on January 1, emerging slowly from the drunken revelry surrounding the final day of 2015, they’ll don some running shoes and get to work at that weight loss resolution. The changing calendar offers opportunity for something new. When better to enact… Read More →

Book Review: Zen in the Art of Writing

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury (Santa Barbara: Joshua Odell Editions, 1994. 176 pp) With over five hundred published works to his name, Ray Bradbury is one of the heavyweights in American literature during the 20th century. Born in Illinois, Bradbury’s family moved to California when he was thirteen. He graduated from Los Angeles High School and did not enter college. Drawn to writing from an early age, Bradbury attended the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society meeting many of the influential writers in the region. Bradbury began writing professionally by publishing stories in magazines. As his stories encountered praise, Bradbury began writing longer works. As they say, the rest is history. Bradbury’s best-known books… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Walking Dead: Season 5

The Walking Dead Season 5

The Walking Dead: Season 5 created by Frank Darabont (AMC, Circle of Confusion, Valhalla Motion Pictures) Starring Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Emily Kinney, Danai Gurira, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Chad L. Coleman. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* Execution You can have the greatest ideas in the world but if you can’t execute, what’s the point? Millions of businesses start with a great idea. The ones that last are the ones that follow through on it. The dreamers need a balanced team capable of filling in the details of the plan. The Walking Dead has always suffered from this fateful issue. Season after season, the writers attempt to balance violence and action with the… Read More →

Television Show Review: Girls: Season 4

Girls Season 4

Girls: Season 4 created by Lena Dunham (Apatow Productions) Starring Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* Vocation When millennials think about work, the question of pay arises among a crowded group of factors. In many ways, the millennial generation grew up observing its parent’s generation reaping the rewards of capitalism. These baby boomers operated behind the Friedman philosophy of profit maximization. For many of the millennial generation, this philosophy rings hollow. In its place, we see the rise of social enterprise; we encounter philosophies around multiple bottom lines and stakeholder theory. There’s more to business than a dollar; there’s more to work than a paycheck. For most of the Girls storyline during its… Read More →

Television Show Review: Orange Is the New Black: Season 1

Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black: Season 1 created by Jenji Kohan (Netflix, Lionsgate Television) Starring Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Jason Biggs, Kate Mulgrew, and Pablo Schreiber. Set Setting On its surface, a series about life in prison doesn’t seem too compelling. Most viewers need some sort of action or changes in setting to pique interest. There’s not much design to a prison setting. Everything is drab. Everyone is locked up. Movement is limited. How can plot develop? Yet, rejecting Orange Is the New Black due to setting limitations would be doing it a great disservice. The series works so far because of its commitment to relationships between its characters. Yes, Orange Is the New Black is… Read More →

Book Review: This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 224 pp) Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Junot Díaz is a graduate of Rutgers College and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award, Díaz won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The Philosophy of Art The philosophy of art is a fascinating subject. Perhaps the most popular philosophy of art surrounds the idea of relationship. Tolstoy—I believe; I’m too lazy to look… Read More →

Film Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook written and directed by David O. Russel (The Weinstein Company and Mirage Enterprises, R, 122 minutes) Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. Making Light of the Dark There’s nothing more difficult than creating comedy out of mental disorders, failed marriages, and gambling. These themes are dark; they force the viewer into introspective spaces. The narrative can’t make light of such scenarios because too many people have dealt with the deep pain associated with these occurrences. But Silver Linings Playbook gives it a shot, and it is mostly successful. To Starting Over—or Staying the Same Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) as he seeks to pick up the pieces of his broken life…. Read More →

Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2

Boardwalk Empire: Season Two created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly Macdonald. Real People Do you ever feel like characters in television series lack depth? On one side, they exist as a funnel for catch phrases and pithy one-liners. On the other side, characters represent philosophical systems. Their mannerisms and dialogue feel stunted, unusual, and unreal. Why is it so difficult to write real people? Boardwalk Empire seems to do it well. The Power Play of Atlantic City Season Two begins with James “Jimmy” Darmody (Michael Pitt) conspiring with his father, the Commodore (Dabney Coleman), and Elias “Eli” Thompson (Shea Whigham) to remove Enoch “Nucky” Thompson… Read More →