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Thursday, 11 September 2014 01:05

Cosby: His Life and Times'

Biography offers in-depth look at comedy great

One of the most difficult things in the world to do is become famous as an entertainer. One of the few things more difficult than becoming famous is staying famous.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:40

The One I Love' a fractured fairy tale

Compelling film defies genre definition

As someone who spends a fair amount of time considering the cinema, I find that it's relatively rare for a movie to offer me any genuine surprises. When you've spent this long seeing this many movies, you pretty much know how things are going to play out most of the time.

Published in Movies

Biography entertains and informs, but lacks insightful depth

Celebrity biographies are usually a hit or miss proposition. If the writer manages to dig to the proper depth and really unpack what makes a famous person tick, then that perspective can lead to fascinating and compelling reading. However, if we merely skim the surface, then the end result becomes little more than a hackneyed hatchet job or back-patting propaganda.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:46

Keeping time - 'The Clocksmith'

There are few literary genres quite as polarizing as fantasy literature. While there are indisputably great and innovative works of fantasy fiction out there, there are just as many bland, boring rehashes of what has come before. Original ideas are relatively rare these days, so finding one that feels fresh can be a welcome surprise.

Cody Brown has given readers just that with 'The Clocksmith.'

Published in Past Book Reviews

What does one do when a novel is compelling and beautifully written, yet leaves you feeling unsettled and dissatisfied upon its completion?

So it is with Hanya Yanagihara's debut novel 'The People in the Trees' (Doubleday, $26.95). 

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:59

The end is nigh Heaven's Fall'

Sci-fi trilogy reaches conclusion

There's a definite bittersweetness when a trilogy comes to an end. If you've been truly engaged by an overarching work of literature, seeing that work reach its conclusion while satisfying can make for a difficult goodbye.

The time has come to bid a fond farewell to a good one.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 15:55

Heads in Beds'

Quality service . . . at a price

At one time or another, the service industry has claimed everyone, and may again. It is a giant industry that operates in the open and in the dark like black ops. If assistance is needed, somebody is waiting to help, either with reluctance or insane enthusiasm. And the bane of any service worker's existence is that one guy demanding the impossible, and then turning their frustration onto them. Jacob Tomsky has seen it all, and in 'Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality' (Vintage, $15) he tells all.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 11 July 2013 09:54

Monsters and meth Fiend'

Debut novel offers fresh take on zombies

As with any art form, trends play a big part in the literary realm. Whenever a genre or subject sees a surge in popularity, more and more authors jump into the fray. This is a mixed blessing at best; while some writers have something new and unique to add to a subject, many others are simply along for the ride, attempting to cash in on something that has achieved a certain level of cultural prominence.

The paranormal has seen such a surge in recent years. Wizards and vampires have had their respective moments in the sun, while a current pop-lit darling is the idea of the zombie. Now, with such a wealth of material out there, it can be difficult for an author to put any kind of personal stamp on the walking dead.

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 11 July 2013 09:26

The grayness between black and white

I Wear the Black Hat' explores good and evil

What makes a villain?

That's the question being tackled by Chuck Klosterman in his new book 'I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)' (Scribner, $25). The noted cultural critic best known for collections such as 'Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs' has turned his sardonic eye toward a new subject the nature of villainy.

Have you ever wanted to read a breakdown of the major players in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal (with a healthy dose of 'Basic Instinct' thrown in for good measure? You can find that here. How about a discussion of the similarity of attitude and impact between rap group N.W.A and the NFL's Oakland Raiders? That's here too. Or maybe you're looking for a deeper exploration of the O.J. Simpson case including a look at the absurdity of the mere existence of Simpson's 'If I Did It' memoir. If so, Klosterman has got something for you.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:35

Aliens among us The Humans'

Sci-fi tale offers outsider's take on humanity

The best science fiction acts as a sort of funhouse mirror, reflecting aspects of our existence back at us in ways that, while twisted, remain recognizable. The genre provides a certain degree of freedom when it comes to exploring ideas; it offers us a removed glimpse at ourselves.

Author Matt Haig has given us one such glimpse with his latest novel 'The Humans' (Simon & Schuster, $25).

Published in Buzz
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