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What happens to people when fame is thrust upon them too soon? What if they can’t handle the spotlight, yet neither are they allowed to escape it? And when that shine finally does fade, what if they want to forget? Can they forget?

These are the sorts of questions that writer/illustrator Michael Kupperman asks in his new graphic memoir “All the Answers” (Gallery 13, $25). It’s the story of his father Joel Kupperman, who in the years during and immediately after World War II was one of the most famous figures in the country, thanks to his childhood participation on a wildly popular radio program. It was a past the elder Kupperman fought to forget, but when the specter of dementia loomed, Michael sought to learn more about this time in his father’s life before it was lost to the rapidly-blooming cloud of oblivion.

Published in Style
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:06

Radical chic and the right stuff

Even the most devoted of book lovers, the most loving of lexophiles has only so much room in their personal literary pantheon. No matter how deeply your adoration runs, space at the top of the heap is limited. We’ve all just a scant few true favorites.

Tom Wolfe was one of mine. He passed away on May 14 at the age of 88.

Wolfe was the author of nearly 20 books, both fiction and non. He was one of the progenitors of the paradigm-shifting New Journalism of the 1960s and 1970s, penning some of the greatest works of nonfiction of the 20th century. He pivoted to fiction a bit later in his career and produced four excellent novels. He was one of the most gifted literary stylists of his – or any – generation.

And he drastically shifted my personal understanding of what writing could be.

Published in Style

So much of our country’s history is bound up in the sea. Our relationship to the ocean has defined us in many ways over the years. Even now, our waterways play vital roles in the way our nation operates. But all that time at sea comes with risk; it’s risk that we often forget or dismiss, but it never goes away.

And sometimes, it makes its presence known.

On Oct. 1, 2015, the merchant ship El Faro ran into Hurricane Joaquin off the Bahamas and sank, killing all 33 of the crew members and leading to months of questions about how something so tragic could have happened … and who should be held responsible.

Author Rachel Slade offers a comprehensive and compelling look at the disaster with her new book “Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro” (Ecco, $27.99). Over the course of nearly 400 pages, Slade brings together hours of research and hundreds of interviews – along with transcripts of voice recordings of El Faro’s final hours – to dive deep beneath the surface of this tragedy, introducing us to many of the people involved and offering a meticulous and thoughtful analysis of it all.

Published in Adventure

There are few bonds as close as those that exist between brothers. And some fraternal bonds transcend even the typical, creating a tight-knit relationship built on an intimacy that no outsider could possibly fully understand.

It’s that latter dynamic that impacts every page of “Like Brothers” (Ballantine, $28) by Mark and Jay Duplass. The Duplass Brothers – patron saints of bootstrap DIY indie filmmaking – have been one of the most fertile and interesting creative partnerships of the 21st century. Their considerable talents in numerous aspects of filmmaking – acting, writing, directing, producing, you name it – helped, of course, but it’s the passion, ambition and determination inherent to their partnership that truly led to their success.

Published in Style

What is it that truly defines athletic genius?

While there’s no doubt that physique and physicality play massive roles in what makes a successful athlete, there’s more to it than that. True sporting greatness springs from not just one’s body, but also that body’s connection with the brain.

In his new book “The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience is Redefining Athletic Genius” (Dutton, $28), Zach Schonbrun attempts to explore that connection; it’s a deep dive into the neuroscience behind movement that attempts to develop an understanding of the body-brain relationship and determining how the relationship impacts those performing at an elite athletic level.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 14:25

To the moon and back - ‘Rocket Men’

It’s remarkable to think that 50 years ago, we sent men to the moon with slide rules and punch-card computers. You’ve probably got something in your pocket right now exponentially more powerful than the combined computing power of NASA in the late 1960s.

But send them we did.

While history most clearly remembers Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon back in July of 1969, he and his crew were just the latest in a long line of astronauts who took many first steps of their own – steps that led to the planting of a flag somewhere not of the Earth.

Robert Kurson’s “Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon” (Random House, $28) tells the story of one such step – the mission undertaken by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to become the first men ever to travel to the moon. From meticulous research and hours of interviews springs a lively narrative, one that brings the bravery and brainpower of all involved to vivid life.

Published in Tekk

While there can be conflicts between science and religion, there are commonalities as well. Both seek to find ways to make sense of the universe and our place within it, albeit in largely disparate fashion.

Author and physicist Alan Lightman seeks to spend some time searching for potential intersectionality between the two with his latest book, titled “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine” (Pantheon, $24.95). Best known for the novel “Einstein’s Dreams,” Lightman has built a literary reputation – in both the fictional realm and the non – on finding ways to make lofty ideas relatable and engaging without being simplistic or condescending. This new book continues that trend as Lightman explores his internal contradictions with regards to the notions of logic and faith.

Published in Tekk
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

Book offers thoughts on mankind’s outer space destiny

Published in Tekk
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