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Wednesday, 04 April 2018 12:37

‘How to American’ humorous and heartfelt

The United States is a nation of immigrants. And every single one of those immigrants has a different and unique American experience.

Comedian Jimmy O. Yang is probably best known for his role as Jian Yang on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” He’s also an immigrant; he came to this country as a teenager, moving from Hong Kong to Los Angeles with his family at the age of 13. As you can imagine, it was culture shock of a high order.

Yang’s new book “How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents” (Da Capo, $27) relates his experience and how he assimilated – sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much – into this strange new home.

Published in Buzz

As the constant churn of content generation becomes more and more a part of the creative landscape, the value of cultural criticism expands exponentially. Consuming art is important, but understanding the consequences of that consumption is vital as well.

Tom Bissell is one such cultural critic. His collection “Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation” (Vintage, $16.95) features essays whose subject matter runs the gamut from highbrow to lowbrow and back again, all delivered with a combination of insight and wit that provokes thought with a concise cleverness.

Throughout these 18 pieces, Bissell addresses artistic questions large and small. He rails against the artificial and embraces the genuine. He is very clear about what he likes … and VERY clear about what he does not. He’s not about pulling punches, but nor is he stingy with his praise. When it comes to art, love it or hate it, Tom Bissell is passionate about it.

Published in Buzz

Bohjalian’s twist-laden mystery an energetic and exciting read

Published in Buzz
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 16:28

The art of war - ‘Bring Out the Dog’

From every war comes art inspired by that war. The pressures and pains of conflict have proven fertile ground for creators since the days of ancient Greece and Homer’s “Iliad.” There’s loads of room for disparate feelings and emotions - hurt, heart, humor, hubris and much more – in tales from the battlefield.

America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no different; some remarkable art has sprung from those fallow fields. Music, movies, literature – all have found ways to reflect the people, places and ideas of our country’s lengthy hitch in the Middle East.

With his debut collection “Bring Out the Dog” (Random House, $27), Will Mackin has produced something that holds up alongside the very best war literature of the 21st century. These remarkable stories – 11 in all – are inspired by Mackin’s time deployed with a special ops task force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. They began life as notes jotted down on torn-off flaps of cardboard boxes or even on his own forearm. From there, these thoughts and observations made their way into Mackin’s journals. And those journals served as the foundational material to build this book.

Published in Style

Book offers thoughts on mankind’s outer space destiny

Published in Tekk
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 16:59

The weird wonder of ‘Rice Boy’

As a book reviewer, a lot of requests come across your desk. There are so many talented people out there doing wonderful work – too many for one person to explore fully. There’s no doubt that some incredible opportunities have slipped by me.

But sometimes, you take a chance on the unknown and are rewarded with something stunning.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:54

After the end - ‘The Rending and the Nest’

Post-apocalyptic novel challenging and complex

Published in Buzz

One could argue that the idea of a world where magic works has been done to death in the realm of fantasy fiction. Whether you’re talking about urban fantasy set in the present day or fiction with a more historical bent, it’s a creative vein that has been pretty thoroughly mined.

And yet, when it works, it REALLY works. And Tom Miller’s “The Philosopher’s Flight” (Simon & Schuster, $26) REALLY works.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 15:05

It’s alive! – ‘Making the Monster’

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” was published in 1818. In the two centuries since, it has taken its place as one of the most iconic works of science fiction and gothic horror in the history of Western literature. It has become a cultural touchstone, a familiar landmark for anyone navigating the realm of popular culture. When you say “Frankenstein,” everyone knows to what you’re referring.

But while the novel is a work of pure invention, it came about in a world where many of the ideas it put forth were viewed as plausible. The environment in which Shelley lived at that time was an ideal breeding ground to give birth to such a tale.

“Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (Bloomsbury Sigma, $27) is author and scientist Kathryn Harkup’s effort to give a sense of perspective on the world into which Shelley’s iconic tale was brought, to shine a light on the scientific conventions and societal mores that served as the foundation upon which the classic story was built.

Published in Tekk

Of all our major sports, baseball is the one with the longest history. All that history means that on a singular level, there’s room for a lot of interesting things to happen. It’s like the adage about infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters eventually producing “Hamlet” – do something long enough and you’ll eventually get some singular results.

Joe Cox’s latest book “The Immaculate Inning: Unassisted Triple Plays, 40/40 Seasons, and the Stories Behind Baseball’s Rarest Feats” (Lyons Press, $27.95) recounts some of those singular moments. Some are just one game (or even one play) while others consist of longer stretches and even full seasons, but they all share at least one commonality: you don’t see them every day.

Published in Sports
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